In this update:
- Family contract tenders
- Family high cost cases
- Bar Bulletin
- Civil Contract Billing
- Criminal Advocates’ Expenses
- Appeals to the Crown Court
Those intending to bid for the family licensed work contracts starting from 1st April are reminded that the deadline is noon on Monday 20th February. Successful bidders in the recent tender round do not need to re-bid unless they wish to swap their matter start contract for a licensed work only contract.
Family high cost cases
The LSC’s administrative problems continue. Family practitioners will be well aware of significant delays in the processing of high cost case plans and payments. As a result, the LSC has withdrawn the facility to telephone the VHCC team. In emergencies, you may call the main LSC number but there is now no means of contacting the VHCC team direct.
The events-based pilot for care cases has been re-announced. This is a new way of dealing with family high cost cases, by paying fixed and average costs rather than negotiating time on individual cases. It is only available in counsel, not solicitor advocate cases. Practitioners report that cases dealt with in this way are processed much more quickly by the LSC, but whether the payment terms are better or worse than the standard approach very much depends on the case.
The second edition of the LSC’s Bar Bulletin has been released. Although aimed at barristers, all legal aid practitioners should read it since it contains updates and statements of LSC policy on a wide range of issues, both civil and criminal, and includes many of the news and update items we have covered in recent months in one place.
Civil contract billing
In order to make necessary changes following the start of new family / housing and family contracts this month, the LSC has restricted access to the online billing system for all controlled work. February reports will not be able to be made until 1st March.
Criminal advocates’ travel expenses
The LSC have published new guidance on when advocates can claim travel expenses for travelling to Court. In short, they will not pay expenses where there is a local Bar near the Crown Court, and where there is not will only pay expenses from where the nearest Bar is located. For more details, see the guidance and for the allowable expenses see the LSC’s spreadsheet.
Appeals to the Crown Court
The LSC reminds practioners that a fresh Representation Order is needed for appeals. Claims made under the Magistrates Court Order will be rejected.