If all bills valued up to £75,000 are to be subject to provisional assessment there will presumably need to be new court fee introduced. The current fee payable for requesting a detailed assessment for a bill where the costs claimed are between £50,000 to £100,000 is £980. Hearings for bills of that size can easily last a full day or more.
Given provisional assessments take place on paper and with very limited (at least under the provisional assessment pilot) documentation before the court, the judicial time required to undertake a provisional assessment is a fraction of that for a full detailed assessment.
Presumably the new fees will be set at an appropriately modest level.
If not, here is something else to worry about. The wording of the draft CPR amendments that I have seen read:
“The court will not award more than £1,500 to any party in respect of the costs of the provisional assessment”.
The term “costs” is obviously wide enough to include both the court fee and VAT. It does not say refer to “recoverable fees” or make any mention of court fees being payable in addition.
If the court fee is not reduced in time for April 2013, and VAT is included in the figure, that leaves £433.33 profit costs for dealing with bill of costs up to £75,000.
You couldn’t make it up.
This is clearly a drafting oversight but has it/will it be amended in the published rules (apparently due in the second week in February)?