Tag Archives: forms

Get a wriggle on

That’s what our editor says LAG will do to get the new edition of the handbook out for 1st April! The Legal Aid Handbook 2013 – 14 will cover the whole of the post LASPO legal aid scheme in one handy volume.

We have delivered the text and look forward to getting the proofs in mid-February. We know there will be lots of final amendments prior to publication as the regulations are being laid so late; but we are on the case.






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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, Social welfare, Uncategorized

True to form?

The LSC changed several legal aid forms, both civil and criminal, with effect from 1st October, meaning they were mandatory from that date. Unfortunately, they forgot to make an announcement about it, with the inevitable result that lots of practitioners have been submitting the old forms and having them rejected. As a result, the LSC have now postponed the forms changes until 1st November. If you have had a rejection because you used the old form, you should be able to re-submit the form and have it dealt with as a priority. See the LSC website for more information.

If you have suffered as a result, for example because legal aid has not been granted or because you have had a payment delayed because a bill was rejected, you may wish to use the LSC’s complaints procedure. Matt Howgate posted a useful article on LegalVoice a few months ago setting out how the LSC’s compensation scheme works and if you have suffered financial loss this would seem to be a classic case of where it should apply.


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Legal aid forms change today

There are new civil and criminal forms, which become mandatory from today. See the civil forms and criminal forms pages on the LSC website.

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News round up

In this update:

  • Face to face contracts tender opens
  • Telephone contracts tender closes
  • Housing legal aid – increase to surveyors rates
  • New process for amending criminal representation orders
  • New forms from 1st October
  • Changes to family VHCC documents
  • LSC and Law Society write to mental health firms
  • New legal aid minister named

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Weekly round up

In this update:

  • Legal aid bill – the end of the road
  • New criminal forms
  • Guidance for solicitors and barristers billing civil cases
  • Family high cost case plans
  • Deadline for duty solicitors

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Weekly round up

Payment for legal aid work

The LSC are offering two new ways of being paid for legal aid work done under contract (criminal police station and magistrates court work, and civil Legal Help). Providers can stay on the current arrangements, or opt for variable payments (get paid for what you claim) or a narrower reconciliation band (5% instead of the current 10%). Each provider will need to think carefully about which option to choose; which you go for will depend very much on your own circumstances. More information is available here, and the form to request a change to your arrangements is here.

Legal aid bill

Days 3 and 4 of the House of Lords Committee Stage took place last week, with near unanimous criticism of the terms of the bill met with rigidity by ministers. The Gazette is reporting a small concession affecting Special Educational Needs cases, but otherwise there have been no changes agreed. Hansard reports of the debates can be found on the Parliament website (day 3 and day 4).

Prior authority for experts

Requests to exceed the capped rates for experts in post-October cases should be sent to the Cardiff office of the LSC.

New Forms

New civil and criminal forms become mandatory from 1st February. See the forms section – civil or criminal – of the LSC website for more.

New Criminal Legal Aid Manual

The Manual – which details how applications for criminal legal aid and eligibility checks are dealt with – has been updated. The new Manual is here and a note of the key changes is here.

LSC Reading Office

The Reading office has moved; new contact details can be found here.



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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.


Filed under Civil, Costs, Family, Handbook

Weekly round up

The LSC have issued the new APP8A to be used where you are seeking prior authority to exceed the prescribed maximum rates for experts fees in post-October cases. The form is not compulsory (you can continue to use APP8s)  but as it is specifically designed for these cases and therefore addresses all the criteria the LSC will consider, it is advisable to use it. The form and checklist are available on the LSC website.

The LSC have changed the documentation required to be submitted with civil and family bills. See the checklist; bills without the appropriate documentation will be rejected automatically from January.

Criminal practitioners will want to note that the LSC will now pay for documentation served in electronic form as PPE in addition to the litigator fee, provided that it has at some point existed in paper form. Documentation that has never existed in paper form can only be claimed as special prepration, and non-documentary material is included in the basic fee and does not attract a separate payment.

New criminal duty rotas will be published here on Thursday 17th; the deadline to contact the LSC to resolve any errors is 9am Monday 20th November, leaving only two working days at most. Duty solicitors will want to diarise to check their rotas on Thursday or Friday this week.

The results of family tenders have started to come out, and Standard Civil Contract holders are receiving new contract schedules.

The legal aid bill has now had its first reading in the House of Lords and will be the subject of further debate in the coming weeks. The Civil Justice Council has published a report on access to justice for litigants in person, in the expectation that legal aid cuts will see a significant rise in their numbers. This situation was described by the Master of the Rolls as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, remarks echoed by Sir David Norgrove, launching his Family Justice Review. These are significant concerns raised by serious people who have no personal interest in legal aid. We understand that the coming weeks will also see further independent research on the impact of the legal aid proposals. We hope their Lordships are paying attention.





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Weekly round up

Fee cuts continue to dominate; the LSC have published FAQs on the criminal and civil legal aid reform pages of their website. Where you are instructing an expert in a post-cut case and are seeking to exceed the prescribed maximum fee you will need to apply for prior authority. The LSC is developing a new form – APP8A – specifically for these cases but until it is released continue to use APP8s. See this post for the contract rules on when you can exceed the rates. They have also published a guide to common mistakes in criminal claims.

Payment delays for both civil and criminal cases are improving, if at the expense of customer service in other parts of the LSC. Only criminal advocacy claims are now outside the service standard, though criminal litigator fees and civil bills are not far behind. You can see the latest information for civil and criminal bills on the LSC site.

The LSC are writing to civil firms who have not met the key performance indicator to use 85% of matter starts awarded in each category of law at each office. This is technically a breach of the contract, so contract notices and/or sanctions may be issued. Practitioners who receive such a letter may wish to rely on what John Sirodcar, head of contract management at the LSC, told LAPG this week:

We contacted John Sirodcar Head of Contract Management at the LSC to ask about this. He said that “the LSC are not looking to issue Contract Notices in scenarios where there is good reason why the allocated NMS have not been used or where usage is close to the allocation. There are however many providers who have used very low volumes of NMS compared to the allocation and contract notices or other contract action will be focused on such scenarios”.
The legal aid bill reaches third reading in the Commons tomorrow. Senior Lib Dem backbenchers have put down amendments bringing some work back into scope. Is this the first sign that the coalition may have to offer concessions to get the bill through? We will know more after Wednesday, but there is still a long way to go.

Finally, yet more litigation from the last tender round. This time a solicitor, Yvonne Hossack, who incorrectly filled out the tender forms has lost her judicial review. This judgement is of wider interest because of comments made about incorrect information given in previous litigation by the LSC about how far they were willing to go in allowing bidders to clarify their bids after submission. One year on, the fall-out from the last tender round is far from over.


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New duty solicitor rotas

The LSC is preparing the criminal duty solicitor rotas for January to July 2012. Existing duty solicitors who wish to remain on the same rota need do nothing. Solicitors wanting to move rota need to submit a form CDS12. New duty solicitors need to submit a CDS12 and either a CLAS certificate or proof of application for one (if the latter, the CLAS certificate must follow by 14th January 2012).

CDS12s must be submitted to dutysolqueries@legalservices.gsi.gov.uk to arrive by 5pm on 14th November 2011.

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