Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New SIP 9 guidance notes – one set to rule them all?

It’s funny what you spot when rummaging around checking some work for a client. We started checking a link to the SIP 9 guidance notes and found that it pointed to some out of date R3 Creditor Guides (not just the fee guides) on a regulator’s web site. We therefore searched that regulator’s site and could not find any fee guides. We then checked the other regulators and only found the October 2015 version, with none of the old versions which we had previously been told you had to keep using.

Then came the bombshell! We found the following link to a set of SIP 9 fee guides that have been updated for the new rules:

We don’t know if we have simply got lucky and spotted it before some major announcement that was going to come out today. Maybe they are not finished yet and we’ve accidentally found a draft version. Either way, given that every appointment-taking IP will be directing creditors to SIP 9 fee guides in one form or another, we think that this is the sort of information we should probably share as fast as we can. You should consider taking your own advice on whether to start using the new guides or wait for an official announcement, but you certainly need to check what your current link is pointing to and satisfy yourself that whatever you are telling creditors and directing creditors to is enough to explain their rights and their part in your fee approval.

While the Guidance Notes are expressed as only being applicable for cases commenced after 6 April 2017, in our view they should probably be used for any cases where fees were approved after 1 October 2015, i.e. where the fees estimate provisions of the 2015 Fee Rule apply. That is because the transitional provisions of the New Rules mean that they apply to all cases from 6 April 2017, even those commenced prior to that date. We will have to wait for the regulators to comment on that formally, but it makes sense to us. Remember though that you will still need to direct creditors to an earlier set of Guidance Notes where the 2015 Fee Rules do not apply, which will be the November 2011 or April 2007 versions depending on when the case commenced. If you cannot find them on a regulator’s website or the R3 website, you may need to put them on your own, or even resort to issuing a hard copy in relevant cases.