LAA amends standard costs limits

The LAA is to increase the default costs limits on a range of civil certificates. The new limits are:

  • Actions against the police etc – £6,000
  • Community care – £3,500
  • Immigration and asylum- £4,500
  • Mental health – £5,000
  • Special Children Act cases – £9,000

The new higher limits apply only to substantive cases within the category, not to judicial review. Certificates for judicial review cases, and for categories not listed above, remain at existing default limits. The process for applying to amend a costs limit hasn’t changed, but the LAA hopes fewer applications will be necessary.

Emergency certificates remain at a default limit of £1,350 – though you can exercise the delegated function to amend the cost limit up to £10,000 as long as it is to do urgent work and the emergency certificate hasn’t expired or been subsumed into a substantive one.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Community Care, Costs, Family, Immigration, Mental Health

Crime tender: FAQs published

The LAA has released a set of FAQs for the crime tender. The deadline for tender submissions is 15 September – remember to check your bid carefully as the LAA has made several changes to the documentation.

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Upcoming training – with free books!

Our publisher LAG is running training courses by two of the Handbook’s editors as part of its autumn training programme.

Vicky Ling is delivering “Managing Civil Legal Aid Contracts” in London on 15 September. Participants get a free copy of the Handbook. More details here.

Anthony Edwards is embarking on a national tour speaking on criminal costs. Participants get a free copy of our sister publication, Anthony’s book (with Colin Beaumont) Criminal Costs. More details, including dates and venues, here.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

Mediation contracts – take action

The Family Mediation Contract is due to expire on 31 October 2016. You should have received a letter from the LAA (sent on 14 July 2016) offering you an extension to 31 March 2018.

The deadline for returning the offer acceptance form is 23.59 on 4 August 2016. The LAA says that if you do not accept the offer in time, your contract will expire on 31 October 2016 and you will not be entitled to payment for work carried out after that date.

As the summer holidays are upon us, it is possible that the person who would normally deal with the LAA contract is away. It is important that action is taken within the deadline.

More information can be found here.

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Crime contract tender opens

The has LAA opened the tender process for new crime contracts to start on 1 April 2017. It is not a competitive process and contracts will be awarded to all those meeting defined criteria, whether they hold a contract currently or not.

  • Mandatory criteria, eg professional standing, payment of taxes etc
  • Regulated by an appropriate professional body
  • Hold the SQM (at least passing a ‘desktop’ audit for new applicants) or Lexcel
  • Have an office meeting defined standards
  • Employ a full time supervisor (Criminal Investigations and Proceedings, Prison Law, Appeals and Reviews, depending on the area of law)
  • Meet a ratio of one supervisor to four other designated staff/caseworkers (six for prision law only)
  • Organisations wanting to expand duty solicitors by more than 50% or, where they currently have none, engage 10 or more duty solicitors need to submit additional financial information and their business plan


  • 8 August 2016 – Final date to ask questions about the tender (FAQs)
  • 22 August 2016 – Replies to FAQs published
  • Noon 15 September 2016 – CLOSING DATE to submit tenders
  • November 2016 – Outcome notified
  • 12 December 2016 – Deadline to passs verification for inclusion on the rota from 1 April 2017
  • 23.59 13 January 2017 – Deadline to submit Duty Solicitor information and CRM12s
  • 28 February 2017 – Deadline to submit tender verification
  • 1 April 2017 – Contract start date

There is more information about the tender here.

The 2017 Standard Crime Contract can be found here.

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Merits tests amended from 22nd July

Following its successful appeal in IS in the Court of Appeal, the LAA announced that it would no longer fund cases that were “poor” or “borderline”. We questioned at the time whether it could lawfully take such an approach before the regulations that set out the merits tests were amended.

Amending regulations have now been laid and come into force on 22nd July. However, the LAA has changed its policy in the last month.

Funding for “borderline” cases will now remain in place in much the same way as before. But where cases categorised as “poor” but not “very poor” would be funded pre-IS, from 22nd July they won’t be. A new category of “marginal” prospects of success has been created for cases where prospects are 45% or above, which will be funded with the same stricter criteria that apply to borderline cases. “Poor” now means below 45%, and those cases drop out of funding.

If you didn’t apply for funding in a borderline or marginal case because of the LAA’s erroneous announcement last month, it will now be worth doing so.

The new criteria don’t apply to any cases where the initial application was made before 22nd July 2016.

More on the LAA site here.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

Supreme Court judgment in residence test case

The Supreme Court has issued its judgment in the residence test. As we reported at the time of the hearing, the Court took the very unusual step of upholding the appeal partway through the case. It’s now given its reasons.

In The Public Law Project, R (on the application of) v Lord Chancellor [2016] UKSC 39, Lord Neuburger gave the only judgment, the other six justices agreeing. He only dealt with the first ground of appeal – ultra vires – it being agreed that, as the case won on that ground alone it wasn’t necessary to deal with the other ground (discrimination).

Lord Neuburger held that LASPO defines what civil legal aid services are to be made available by reference to the issue of law, the nature of the services and the need and ability to pay of the individual requiring the services. There is nothing in the Act that excludes groups of people on the grounds of personal circumstances or personal characteristics beyond that – such as resident status – and nothing in the Act that enables such an exclusion to be brought in using the powers given to make secondary legislation. He also noted the strong presumption in statutory interpretation that every Act applies not just to persons belonging to the territory affected by the Act, but also to “foreigners…within its territory”.

We’ve remarked before on the varying interpretations of the statutory purpose of LASPO. Lord Neuburger addressed that as well; “the purpose of Part 1 of LASPO was, in very summary terms, to channel civil legal aid on the basis of the nature and importance of the issue, an individual’s need for financial support, the availability of other funding, and the availability of other forms of dispute resolution. The exclusion of individuals from the scope of most areas of civil legal aid on the ground that they do not satisfy the residence requirements of the proposed order involves a wholly different sort of criterion from those embodied in LASPO and articulated in the 2011 paper.” This is a helpful formulation, putting the emphasis back on targeting need rather than reducing costs.

However, although it’s now clear that the residence test can’t be brought in by statutory instrument, it still could be done by primary legislation. The previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, made clear he supported that – though no legislative plans had been announced. It remains to be seen whether Theresa May – and whoever she appoints as Lord Chancellor – agrees.


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Filed under Civil, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Public Law, Social welfare, Uncategorized