Tough new Point of Principle

The LSC’s Costs Appeals Committee recently certified a Point of Principle (CLA 55), which once again emphasises the importance of obtaining acceptable evidence of means in Controlled Work cases. The PoP says that files without evidence of means should not be claimed, and if they are, will be nil assessed unless you can provide a satisfactory explanation as to why there was no evidence of means.

Historically, the LSC has paid claims for cases where evidence of means was obtained, however late that might have been, as long as the evidence related to the month prior to the date of signature on the form. This PoP changes all that. If you obtain evidence of means late, the LSC will not pay if the assessor does not agree with your justification, even if the client was eligible at all material times.

6 Comments

Filed under Civil, Costs, Family, Handbook

6 responses to “Tough new Point of Principle

  1. Steve Robbins

    Is CLA 55 being applied retrospectively, or just since the issue of the PoP?
    On the CW1, if we give reasons for no evidence at the time, do we need to get the client to countersign there, or is their signature accepting legal help sufficient

    • Hi Steve

      PoPs are not retrospective.

      I would be very wary of advising a clinet who did not bring evidence of means to the first appointment unless the reasons were compelling and the need for advice was urgent.

  2. Jackie Peirce

    Hi Vicky

    Having read the PoP I am not sure what leads you to the conclusion that you cannot subsequently obtain evidence of the means at the time. It has always been necessary to have some explanation about why you started work at all. But just from the PoP it seems to suggest that provided the evidence is there when you claim the file (even if obtained late) the claim should be fine. I would have expected something very explicit if they were intending that late obtained evidence was of no use.

    Jackie Peirce

    • Hi Jackie

      I agree that you can start work without evidence of means other than what the client is able to tell you,as has always been the case. I also agree that as long as you get evidence prior to any audit by the LSC, it should be accepted.

      However, the PoP goes on to say that if there is no evidence of means on the file, it will be nil assessed on audit. If you appeal, even if you supply satisfactory evidence, the LSC has discretion whether to accept your reason why you did not supply it with the file in the first place. If they disagree with your reason, even if the evidence of means is valid, they may not accept it.

      This element of discretion is new. Prior to the PoP, satisfactory evidence would guarantee payment, even if supplied after initial audit failure. This was recorded in the 2008 Report of the Contract Compliance Working Group, set up following the Law Society’s 2007 JR (Appendix H).

  3. Pingback: This week’s round up | Legal Aid Handbook

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