Tag Archives: fees

MoJ presses ahead with litigator fee cuts

The legal aid minister, Shailesh Vara, made a written statement to the House of Commons today. In it he said that the second cut to Crown Court litigator fees of 8.75% will go ahead, effective from 1 July. The tender process for duty crime contracts will also go ahead. But the cut to advocate fees has been shelved.

The implementing regulations were also laid today, along with an impact assessment which, rather optimistically, concluded that

We do not anticipate there would be any major impact on future clients eligible for criminal legal aid services. Any impact on clients would be felt through a lack of legal aid coverage should providers be unable to sustain a second fee reduction. We believe that any potential problems with sustainability are mitigated by the changes to legal aid procurement and the harmonisation of fee structures, which seek to improve efficiency and simplify administration in the criminal legal aid provider market.

This conclusion may well be because the assumption made was that “Providers will deliver the same level and quality of service as at present”. If a starting assumption is that the policy won’t impact suppliers, it is unsurprising when the conclusion is that the policy won’t impact suppliers. We suspect the reality will be rather different.

Meanwhile, the LAA confirmed that it had received 1,099 bids from 500 separate organisations for duty provider contracts, which it described as “sufficient to undertake a viable competition”. We anticipate notifications of the outcome will be sent out in September.

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Filed under Costs, Crime, Policy

2nd December: civil cuts too

Regulations laid today and coming into force on 2nd December cut the following civil fees for new cases started on or after that date:

  • cutting hourly rates for non-family barristers to solicitor rates
  • removing the 35% enhancement from immigration Upper Tribunal cases
  • cutting expert fees by 20%
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    Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Immigration, Social welfare

    Legal aid reform announcement today

    Later today the Lord Chancellor will make a statement in the Commons setting out the next stage in the government’s Transforming Legal Aid proposals. Already published is a letter from him setting out some of what will be announced, and a response to the initial consultation and a further consultation paper is expected.

    From what we know so far, it seems:

  • price competitive tendering will not happen
  • Crime fees will be cut by 17.5%, half in 2014 and half in 2015
  • There will be two crime contracts, one allowing unlimited own client work and one allocating duty slots to firms, but breaking the link between individual duty solicitors and slots
  • There will be an independent review of advocacy in crime and work to save costs elsewhere in the system
  • The civil proposals, including removing the right to legal aid in most cases for prisoners, cuts to judicial review, the residence test and cuts to fees for childcare work, seem likely to go ahead as proposed
  • When published, we will post the consultation documents and bring you more detail. But it seems that whatever happens today will not be the end of the matter; there will be more campaigning, more debate and more challenges to come. Whether PCT was ever a serious proposition, or as some have suggested a straw man allowing administrative cuts to be brought in more easily, it has succeeded in uniting all parts of the profession as perhaps never before. And it must be remembered that what will go ahead, even without PCT, will be devastating. It is seriously questionable whether crime and family practitioners can absorb more fee cuts and stay viable. And the civil proposals, largely it seems unchanged, remain a fundamental concern to the rule of law by depriving groups of people of access to the courts no matter how they are treated by the state and others.

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