Guideline Hourly Rates Apply Unless “Clear and Compelling Justification” Can be Shown
The Court of Appeal noted in Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd & Ors v LG Display Co. Ltd & Anor (Costs)  EWCA Civ 466 (06 April 2022) that London 1 rates specifically cover “very heavy commercial and corporate work by centrally based London firms” and provided useful commentary on the circumstances in which these rates might be exceeded.
On summary assessment of the costs of the appeal in Samsung, LG was claiming fees at rates well above the guideline hourly rates, with some rates being more than double the guideline rates.
Whilst the “Summary Assessment of Costs” guide published in the White Book recognises that in substantial and complex litigation an hourly rate in excess of the guideline rates may sometimes be appropriate, the Court of Appeal noted that the guideline rates for London 1 already assume that the litigation in question qualifies as “very heavy commercial work”.
The Court of Appeal went on to state at paragraph 6:
“If a rate in excess of the guideline rate is to be charged to the paying party, a clear and compelling justification must be provided. It is not enough to say that the case is a commercial case, or a competition case, or that it has an international element, unless there is something about these factors in the case in question which justifies exceeding the guideline rate.”
Costs of the appeal were summarily assessed at £55,000, substantially lower than LG’s submitted schedule in which they claimed costs of £72,818.21.
This follows the earlier decision of the Commercial Court in Various Airfinance Leasing Companies & Ors v Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation  EWHC 3509 (Comm) (20 December 2021) in which the High Court came to the same conclusion but in circumstances where costs had been awarded on the indemnity basis.
Going forward, it therefore seems unlikely that parties will be awarded any rate above London 1 in instances of summary assessment.
Alex Ferrigno, Senior Paralegal email@example.com