Court of Protection costs: the OPG 105 form and it’s impact one year on.

August 31, 2017

 

SPH explain the OPG 105 form and it’s impact one year on.

 

Effects of New Measures Introduced Last Year

 

Professional Deputies Annual Bills of Costs for General Management work must now include the OPG 105 form.

 

It is anticipated that these Bills of Costs will come under careful scrutiny when assessed for the first time against the predictions and estimates provided a year previously.

 

In short, any departure from the predicted or estimated costs made a year ago, by more than 20%, without good reason, will be disallowed.

 

 

Form OPG 105

 

This form was introduced last year, and will act very much like a budget in Civil Litigation matters, or a case plan, in Publically Funded matters. It’s purpose is to ensure that all costs undertaken will be carefully considered and scrutinised and ultimately held to be reasonable and proportionate to the value of the Protected Party’s estate.

 

The form consists of estimates for the next reporting year and Section 3 is a fundamental part of the document.  A Deputy is now required to provide estimates for the following categories of work:

  1. Contact with the Protected Party, their family, relatives and friends;

  2. Contact with Case Managers and care providers;

  3. Contact with other parties; and

  4. Work undertaken on forms and other documents, during the General Management Period.

Unfortunately, when the OPG105 form was introduced in March 2016 there wasn’t any guidance – this wasn’t provided until some months later.

 

Professional Deputy Costs Guidance

 

The Office of the Public Guardian and the SCCO eventually issued in July 2016 a ‘Good Practice Guidance’ document in respect of Professional Deputy Costs. In summary, these are as follows:

 

1: SCCO Guideline Hourly rates will be allowed, except in exceptional circumstances;

 

2: Routine tasks such as arranging payments or checking bank statements must be delegated to a Grade D fee earner. In addition, use of a non-fee earner will be encouraged;

 

3: Three minutes will generally be allowed for arranging payments of any kind;

 

4: Three minutes will be allowed for short, routine correspondence

 

5: One home visit per annum is appropriate, additional visits will be very much dependent upon the circumstances of the case. Excessive contact with all parties should be limited;

 

6: Work in respect of welfare is not recoverable, without permission from the COP;

 

7: Duplication, especially when more than one fee earner attendance to any meeting will be disallowed. In this regard, attendance at an investment strategy meetings will only be recovered for one senior fee earner in attendance;

 

8: File notes must be present to evidence the work carried out;

 

9: Office overheads ie. Research, perusing incoming correspondences, internal communications, writing cheques and supervision are not recoverable;

 

10: Litigation costs will not be allowed and should be appropriately recovered and claimed within the litigation proceedings;

 

11: Grade D rates will be allowed for the preparation of the Bill of Costs;

 

12: In hardship cases (net assets below £16,000.00), professional costs must be limited to 4.5% of the Protected Party’s estate per annum;

 

13: On the client’s death, professional costs should be agreed with the executor of the estate;

 

14: The OPG105 must be submitted to the SCCO with the Bill of Costs;

 

15: Bills of Costs should be prepared and submitted on an annual basis.

 

The guidance document is available at the following link:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/538901/19_07_16_Professional_deputy_costs__FINAL.pdf

 

The OPG105 form is available at the following link:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/deputy-annual-report-accounting-for-your-actions

 

Comment:

 

Clearly you must now be more careful when preparing the Annual Bill of Costs than ever before. Whilst more thought needs to be undertaken at this stage, it is advisable to take an active role and work closely with your costs draftsman, throughout the forthcoming year once the form OPG 105 has been completed.

 

Indeed, we have already seen much of the above being implemented by the SCCO on assessments during the last 12 months.

 

Should you require any clarification upon any aspect that arises as a result of this article, please do not hesitate to contact Alison Bradbury on Tel: 01772 435550

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