News — Do Scale Limits Apply To Rates And Quantum Where Special Costs Orders Are Made?

When drawing a bill of costs according to Scale, certain scale limits cap both the time spent by the practitioner and the quantum of amount recoverable.

 

In this regard, questions have been raised in taxations where, for example, a Junior Practitioner may spend a number of hours on a particular scale item which exceeds the capped hours but not the quantum for that particular item.  In those cases, should it be open to claim a greater number of hours than the number of hours provided in the Scale?  

In Hart v JGC Accounting and Financial Services Pty Ltd (No 2) [2016] WASCA 168, Registrar Whitbread determined that in instances where the Junior Practitioners’ hours are charged under a Scale item which exceed the hourly maximum, but the costs claimed for that item do not exceed the relevant financial maximum for that Scale item, it is acceptable to allow the Bill in its current form.  The Registrar’s reasoning was premised on the view of higher Courts that suggests that the ‘time’ column of the scale is merely included to demonstrate how some scale amounts are calculated with reference to a practitioner of a specified experience level charging the maximum hourly rate permitted by the Scale.  Click here for the judgment.