The LSC have published more documentation on the implementation of the October fee cuts. It is important to read the full announcement on their website, which covers civil, crime and family, and solicitors, barristers and experts. In short everyone working in legal aid needs to know how their cases and their income will be affected.
- Unified Contracts (for family and housing with family firms)
- Standard Civil Contracts (all other providers)
- Standard Criminal Contracts
- The payment annex and Funding Order Schedule containing the revised fees
- A new form – LAC1 – which must be completed by advocates acting at committals and signed by the Court legal adviser in all cases where the Court directs the case to be heard at the Crown Court. Presumably this form is to prevent the LSC from paying the £362 litigator / £203 advocate fee applicable in cases where the Court accepts jurisdiction but the defendant elected jury trial.
The LSC have created a training programme which can be accessed here.
How are you affected?
- Civil (non-family) solicitors and agencies – fees are cut by 10% on all cases started on or after (or certificates applied for after) 3rd October
- Civil barristers – payment rates are specified by contract and included in the payment annex for the first time, again only for new cases
- Criminal practitioners – advocate and litigator fees are cut for all cases started on or after 3rd October
- Experts – fees are now prescribed for all cases starting on or after 3rd October whether civil, crime or family. “Expert” is defined broadly to include not just those traditionally thought of as “expert witnesses”, but also almost all professionals whose services are commissioned as part of a case, such as for example interpreters, process servers, etc. Practitioners should study the list of prescribed expert fees to ensure that any services they commission are done so within the fees. There is provision for exceeding the fees in the respective contracts but 0nly in limited exceptional circumstances. This document summarises the position for both civil and criminal cases.