Tag Archives: advocacy

Old civil forms now accepted up to 1 September

Further to our recent post, the LAA has issued an update earlier today which states that although the new legal aid forms will be available on 4 August, it will still be acceptable to use the old forms until the end of the month.

Pre 4 August paper forms received on or before 5pm on 5 September but signed and dated before 1 September 2014 will still be acceptable.


Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Family

Legal aid – tell the NAO what you think but be quick

The National Audit Office is currently undertaking a study into whether the government’s civil legal aid reforms can be considered to represent value for money. The report will go to the respected Public Accounts Committee later this year. The NAO says that the views of the providers of legal aid services will form an important part of the study.

It is seeking your views through a short online survey, which will close on Friday 25th July 2014. It should take 15-20 minutes to complete and all responses will remain strictly anonymous. You can find the survey here.

UPDATE: The closing date has been extended to 1st August.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Advocacy, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Mental Health, Policy, Public Law, Social welfare

MOJ to appeal residence test JR result

Further to our post yesterday, the MOJ has indicated that it intends to appeal. At 11.56 am on Tuesday July 15 2014, the MOJ tweeted ‘Following today’s judgement on the JR of the civil legal aid residence test, @MOJGovUK intends to appeal’  Link here

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Community Care, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Public Law, Social welfare

Family Court bundle payments from 31 July

The MOJ has published new regulations to implement a revised scheme in respect of Court bundle payments. It undertook a short consultation exercise, which showed that the clear preference of respondents was to link the bolt-on to the Advocate’s bundle rather than the Court bundle.

Accordingly, this is the basis of the new scheme, subject to controls concerning documents which are served and ‘necessary to the case’, which the MOJ felt were required. The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (No4) Regulations 2014 can be found on our LASPO Resources page in the list of civil regulations.


Filed under Advocacy, Family

Bar and Law Society do deal with government

It was announced on Thursday afternoon that a deal has been done between the Bar – Bar Council and Criminal Bar AssociationLaw Society and the Lord Chancellor. The Bar achieved the postponement of cuts to advocacy fees until summer 2015, in return for ending the “no returns” action. The Law Society, rather less successfully, achieved the pull forward by a year of interim payments for litigator fees, but this year’s 8.75% fee cuts will stand, as will next year’s further 8.75% cuts, the reduction of criminal contracts by two thirds and the rest of the proposed cuts. The government achieved the end of the united front between solicitors and the Bar, and the end of action that was having a significant impact on the ability of the criminal courts to function. But the LCCSA have confirmed that action by solicitors and probation workers on Monday and Tuesday will go ahead.

The CBA welcomed the agreement, and on Twitter its Chairman described the government’s “submission” to the action it has taken. But in reality all that has happened is that some cuts (to AGFS but not to VHCCs) that criminal advocates faced have been postponed until after the next election – when a new Lord Chancellor (or even the same one) may well feel less immediate political pressure to avoid criminal cases being delayed in the courts and more able to force cuts through. Meanwhile, it appears unity across the professions has collapsed, meaning that there is even less chance of solicitors resisting cuts to their fees and a cull of their firms. And, in the face of two successive 8.75% fee cuts to all their other work, the prospect of no immediate cuts to advocacy fees provides an even greater incentive for firms that survive to take more and more Crown Court advocacy in house. The CBA’s victory, if victory it is, may well prove to be rather pyrrhic.

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Filed under Crime, Policy

Transforming legal aid: the government responds

Criminal cuts

The Ministry of Justice published its response to the consultation and decisions today.

Key points:

  • There will be two criminal contracts, one for own client and one for duty work
  • Own client contracts will be unlimited in number and all firms who cross the quality threshold will get one
  • There will be a limited number of duty contracts per area, making 525 in total across England and Wales (down from about 1600 at present). Each contract may be held by a single entity (firm, ABS, etc) or by a consortium of no more than three members (four in non-urban areas)
  • Holders of both own and duty contracts will be able to use agents for up to 25% of the contract value
  • The Public Defender Service will be guaranteed a duty contract in each area where it operates
  • The tender process for new contracts is expected to start in April 2014
  • Support will be provided for bidders, including the release of data and access to “business support experts” within the LAA and potentially products from the British Business Bank
  • There will be two fixed fees for London and non-London police station cases, with escape fees at hourly rates 17.5% lower than now
  • Magistrates court fees will be simplified – there will be no higher and lower standard fees and no designated / non-designated area fees, but the existing categories will be retained. So there will be one fee per category. Hourly rates for duty work and non-standard fee cases will be cut by 17.5%
  • Revised LGFS scheme for the Crown Court with new fixed fees for cases less than 500 PPE and the current LGFS fixed fees – cut by 17.5% – for cases with more than 500 PPE
  • Revised AGFS for the Crown Court, implementing the proposed option 2
  • Interim payments in Crown Court cases for both litigators and advocates. Claim points are at PCMH for litigators, and at the start of the trial (but only where the trial is listed for 10 days or more) for both litigators and advocates.

Implementation dates:

  • 20 March 2014 – first round of cuts to police station, Magistrates Court and LGFS fees – 8.75% reduction
  • April 2014 – tenders for new contracts open
  • Summer 2014 – revised AGFS
  • Spring 2015 – new contracts start with second 8.75% cut to solicitor rates

Key documents:

Civil Cuts

Meanwhile, the government also responded today to the enquiry report from the Joint Committee of Human Rights into the civil legal aid cuts. While broadly defending its proposals, it offered further concessions in that the residence test will not apply to

  • children seeking support under ss17 and 20 Children Act 1989
  • successful asylum seekers will not be subject to the first limb of the test until 12 months after being granted asylum
  • refugees settled or transferred to the UK but who didn’t claim asylum here will not be subject to the first limb of the test until 12 months after arrival
  • there will be some flexibility in the evidence requirements for individuals whose personal circumstances (such as mental illness, homelessness) make it impracticable to provide evidence

There was no movement on prison law, borderline cases (both of which have been implemented now anyway) or exceptional cases.

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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, LASPO, Policy

New Family Advocacy Fees Published – updated post

The MoJ has published the new FAS fees which will apply in the new single Family Court from April. They are in appendix B and can be downloaded from the bottom of the page in the consultation response here.

The diffentiation in fees is based on the level of Judge hearing the case.  Apart from that, the fee structure is as before and has been designed to be cost neutral for both practitioners and the Ministry.

Due to indications from the President that Court bundles are likely to be restricted to 350 pages or less, there is a need to review bundle payments and a further consultation will be conducted on that point.

Note – the original post has been updated in the light of helpful comments received.


Filed under Advocacy, Family

New free resources for keeping up with legal aid changes

We have updated our ‘LASPO resources‘ page – which is one of the most used features on this site and is recommended by LAPG.

It now has links to all the updated civil and crime regulations. If you are not sure what has changed, check out the 2013-14 Handbook Updates page.

We have also provided links to the peer review ‘improving your quality’ guides on the old LSC website. Although peer reviews are still being carried out and there is information on the process there are regrettably no support materials to help practitioners on the Legal Aid Agency website.

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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, LASPO

Simon Hughes appointed new legal aid Minister

The Government announced today that Lord McNally is to leave his current post at the Ministry of Justice to take the Chair of the Youth Justice Board. Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for Bermondsey, has been appointed to the Ministry in his place.

Since first posting this news, it appears that although Simon Hughes has been appointed to the Ministry, and Lord McNally is leaving it, responsibilities are not entirely clear. We will provide an update as soon as we can.


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Filed under Crime, Family, Housing, Immigration, Policy, Social welfare

New forms from today

The following are mandatory from today. More information is on the LAA website.

CF1 – civil – to allow Counsel to submit fee notes

CRM3 – Prison law (PL1 is being withdrawn)

AF1 – Crime advocacy

CRM7 – Crime advocacy

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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Housing, Immigration, Uncategorized