The LSC have issued the new APP8A to be used where you are seeking prior authority to exceed the prescribed maximum rates for experts fees in post-October cases. The form is not compulsory (you can continue to use APP8s) but as it is specifically designed for these cases and therefore addresses all the criteria the LSC will consider, it is advisable to use it. The form and checklist are available on the LSC website.
The LSC have changed the documentation required to be submitted with civil and family bills. See the checklist; bills without the appropriate documentation will be rejected automatically from January.
Criminal practitioners will want to note that the LSC will now pay for documentation served in electronic form as PPE in addition to the litigator fee, provided that it has at some point existed in paper form. Documentation that has never existed in paper form can only be claimed as special prepration, and non-documentary material is included in the basic fee and does not attract a separate payment.
New criminal duty rotas will be published here on Thursday 17th; the deadline to contact the LSC to resolve any errors is 9am Monday 20th November, leaving only two working days at most. Duty solicitors will want to diarise to check their rotas on Thursday or Friday this week.
The legal aid bill has now had its first reading in the House of Lords and will be the subject of further debate in the coming weeks. The Civil Justice Council has published a report on access to justice for litigants in person, in the expectation that legal aid cuts will see a significant rise in their numbers. This situation was described by the Master of the Rolls as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, remarks echoed by Sir David Norgrove, launching his Family Justice Review. These are significant concerns raised by serious people who have no personal interest in legal aid. We understand that the coming weeks will also see further independent research on the impact of the legal aid proposals. We hope their Lordships are paying attention.