John Savage
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Charge rates for Human Rights tax work

Charge rates for Human Rights tax work

For the past nearly seven years I have been pursuing a case on behalf of one of my clients for Widowers Bereavement Allowance. In November 2006 the court ruled in the lead case that the Government had indeed discriminated against widowers. However, in a (very bizarre) ruling they decided that no compensation would be due to any widowers, but that "reasonable" advocacy costs would be payable by the UK Government.

The Foreign Office won't reach a "friendly settlement" with me, or rather they will, but are only offering 400€. This is felt by myself to be derisory, as I am claiming my costs based upon a charge rate of £130 per hour, which I perceive as being reasonable.

However, in a letter today via the ECHR, the Foreign Office argue that "the accountants claim a fee rate of £130 per hour. This is clearly excessive for an accountancy firm based in Cornwall, and would even be thought a lot for an experienced barrister based in Central London".

I think this is complete balony, but in order to be sure of my facts, before I get back to the Court, I wonder if other accountants around the country would just let me know what their rates for similar work would be, as I want to present my argument based upon facts and not speculation.

Many thanks in advance to all who respond.
John Savage


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20th Jul 2007 15:01

Sounds reasonable


I don't quite understand what a barrister's rate has to do with "the price of fish" (as we say oop here int' frozen north). You are not a barrister and if you were I suspect your client would not have been permitted to instruct you without first engaging a solicitor.

Perhaps a closer parallel could be the rates at which the Legal Services Commission will pay an accountant for work in preparation for a court hearing under legal aid.

Why not suggest to the Foreign Office that they have a word with someone at the LSC as to whether £130 per hour sounds reasonable?

I assume you will not be applying that same hourly rate to time spent years ago?


P.S. I love the ice cream and even the clotted cream and strawberry jam on toast - not so sure about the pasties though! They seem a bit claggy on the palate - and you know nowt about sausage!

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20th Jul 2007 15:47

Tax Barrister
Good to hear your alive and kicking the current rate as of last week in Temple Gardens,Tax Chambers is £300 plus VAT

Cheers Mark

Appleton Richardson & Co

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By wdr
20th Jul 2007 15:50

Can someone find me an experienced Central London Barrister
at £130 per hour. Even the most Junior tax counsel will charge at least double that, and a Tax Silk is unlikely to touch a matter for less than a £5000 fee

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20th Jul 2007 13:50

Sticking to guns...
Thanks Nick, and yes I am sticking to my guns. The arrogance of these overpaid and overpensioned government men in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is, quite frankly, breathtaking.

The UK Government lost the case, yet there is no remorse or humility whatesoever, and it confirms to me the whole spin and deceipt of this corrupt Government who, outwardly, condemn discrimination and human "rights", posturing in front of the media to do so, yet the reality is that inwardly they don't give a damn. Even the ever arrogant John Reid was suggesting, a few short weeks ago, that human 'rights' should be suspended in times of national emergency. Well, a 'right' is a right is a right, and not to be taken away under any circumstances, otherwise it is not a 'right'.

My charge rate is, in my opinion, quite reasonable, indeed, even on the low side when compared with some of the comments posted here. However, it will ultimately be for the court to decide, as I have told them I wish this pursued to judgement.

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19th Jul 2007 16:50

Cost formula?
Anon, can you provide the reasoning behind the "3x cost formula to calculate a reasonable charge out rate"?

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By Anonymous
19th Jul 2007 17:19

My firm's current charge out rate for work relating to tax enquiries is £200 per hour.

Last year, at a costs hearing, the Chairman of the VAT Tribunal awarded costs based on my charge out rate of £160 per hour. HMRC were contesting the number of hours spent and not the charge out rate.In the event, due to the hearing, HMRC had to pay for more hours than the original claim.


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19th Jul 2007 17:20

charge out rates
3 x salary always used to be the rule of thumb in the accountancy game, going way back to the 60s. One for the staff, one for the house, and one for the partner.

But if you look today, you'll see in small firms the rate is more like 4 x, whilst in the big 4, it's more like 6 x.

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19th Jul 2007 17:24

Typical charge rates...
Thanks Ajay, this is more the information I am after.

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19th Jul 2007 17:27

£500 per hour
In autumn 2006 I was quoted £500 per hour plus VAT for experienced tax counsel in Lincoln's Inn.

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19th Jul 2007 18:19

Hi John

the comment about charges in Cornwall is outrageous and discriminatory.

in this day and age it does not matter where you are based, though i accept that some cleints have very expensive property to maintain and clients have to pay for it so just stick to the 3* calculation to determine your charge out rate.

in your case i know that £130 is excellent value, try not to have to many charge out rates or charge suceess fees as lawyers are sometimes prone to do. stick to your guns

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19th Jul 2007 13:47

In what sense...
... do you perceive £130 per hour to be reasonable?
Is this your normal charge out rate?
If not, why have you inflated this charge out rate?

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By Anonymous
19th Jul 2007 14:04

Can I suggest that you look at the salaries being paid for a suitably qualified person in your area and apply a 3x cost formula to calculate a reasonable charge out rate.

Using the Roberthalf salary survey (from the ACCA website) is see that a tax manager in the southwest should be looking to earn ITRO £40-£50k per annum, which suggests to me approx £100 per hour charge out.

Alternatively a partner might reasonably aim to earn £70,000 p/a which would suggest a rate closer to £150 per hour.

Finally, it shouldn't be too hard to find out what the hourly rate for an experienced central London barrister is; if you can write back and say that it is say £300 per hour the FO will start to look very stupid.

Edit: a quick google leads me to a survey that suggests that in 1998 the average rate was £150 p/h; £200 - £250 would appear to be the minimum.

The FO might be able to instruct at a lower rate but I would suggest that does not apply to the wider public.

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