Disbursements in family cases from 9th May

See also this post for changes which affect both housing and family practitioners from 9th May and this post for the wider family fee and advocacy schemes.

Specifically in family cases, the following changes also come into force:

  • Independent social work assessments where the work is done outside England and Wales taken out of scope (new specification para 10.171)
  • Independent social workers can not charge more than CAFCASS rates (para 10.172)
  • Risk assessments within section 16A of the Children Act 1989 (as amended), and undertaken by CAFCASS officers or Welsh family proceedings officers, including assessments of the risk of harm to a child in connection with domestic abuse to the child or another person, taken out of scope (para 10.173)
  • All activities to promote contact with a child directed by the court under section 11A to 11G of the Children Act 1989 taken out of scope (para 10.174)
  • Fees, charges and costs of child contact centres, including assessments and reports on supervised contact and of other professional assessments of contact between children and adults, taken out of scope (para 10.175)
These changes apply to all certificates issued by the LSC on or after 9th May 2011, except those cases where the application was both signed prior to 9th May and received by the LSC prior to 16th May 2011 (para 8 of the Funding Order).
Practitioners will need to be careful about agreements and court orders to split costs of assessments etc between the parties, which are relatively common in care proceedings. Regardless of whether the court has ordered that the costs of an assessment, or a share of the costs, are considered to be a reasonable disbursement on a party’s legal aid certificate, if it is caught by the above the LSC will not pay. Given that Schedule 5 of the new Funding Order (which is effectively directly reproduced in the contract) specifically removes them from scope, the Court has no power to make such an order – or at least, no power to direct the LSC to pay the costs.

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