In this update:
- New LASPO SIs published
- Advice on dealing with cases going out of scope
- Important crime costs decision
- Change to LSC contact details
- LSC announces Bar reference groups
New LASPO Statutory Instruments published
Before Christmas, when the LASPO merits criteria regulations were debated in the House of Lords, many peers were concerned about the possible impact of the proposed merits test for judicial review cases, in particular that it required all (not just all reasonable) alternative remedies to be exhausted before funding could be granted. See this LAPG briefing paper for more information. The government undertook to review the test and this week published regulations revising the test, which will now require
there are no alternative proceedings before a court or tribunal which are available to challenge the act, omission or other matter, except where the Director considers that such proceedings would not be effective in providing the remedy that the individual requires
Also this week, regulations amending the scope of Schedule 1 were laid, to bring into scope appeals relating to council tax reduction schemes in the High Court and above, to bring into scope international agreements relating to child maintenance, and to amend the definition of domestic violence to bring it into line with that used across government, as well as a technical amendment relating to how the scope of judicial review is described.
Advice on dealing with out of scope cases
Many practitioners and others have been concerned about what will happen to cases that start before LASPO comes in and continue into April and beyond. This is a particular concern where the organisation dealing with the case pulls out of legal aid or ceases to exist before the case has concluded. The LSC have still not issued their own guidance, but now the Advice Services Alliance have produced a briefing paper giving guidance to their members on their options and obligations. It was produced in consultation with the LSC and is the best currently available information on these issues.
Important crime costs decision
This week, Crimeline reported a decision of an Independent Costs Assessor allowing two standard fees where a client was charged with breach of an ASBO alongside another offence. The ICA confirmed that the ASBO breach was to be treated as a separate criminal offence not as a breach of a community penalty or court order, that therefore para 10.69 of the contract did not apply and that two fees were payable.
Change to LSC contact details
With effect from last week, the Nottingham office now deals with all queries relating to AGFS payments; advocates should no longer call the Liverpool office.
Bar reference groups announced
Over the next two months, the LSC will hold a series of meetings with the Bar to discuss LASPO implementation, processing of claims and payments, contract management of the Bar, and more. More information on the LSC website.
For more on the new legal aid scheme, see our LASPO Resources page, follow us on Twitter @legalaidhbk or pre-order the new Handbook by clicking the cover above