About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Proposed Funding Code changes

I am grateful to the Cafcass Google Group for drawing my attention to the proposed changes to the LSC Manual on which the LSC is currently consulting. The closing date is 21st October 2008.

Broadly the proposed changes are associated with the implementation of the Children & Adoption Act 2006 and exclude the costs of s 16A risk assessments and the costs of any activity related to promoting contact which the LSC expect will be borne by Cafcass. One issue that this may raise is that it may preclude the instruction of independent social workers which some Judges are having to resort to in private law cases because of the huge backlogs in Cafcass reports - see Pink Tape's post on this.

Whilst looking over the proposed changes I was reminded of two points. The first is that the LSC have now excluded from payment any assessment relating to residential assessments including a viability assessment or any assessment preparatory too or with a view to the possibility of a residential assessment.

Secondly I noticed the reference to client's travelling and accommodation expenses as being allowable disbursements. There is, of course a but. "The fact that an item is listed as an allowable disbursement means that it is capable of being allowed, not that it will be usual to do so. For example, clients' travelling and accommodation expenses will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances where the client is so impecunious that it is not otherwise possible to progress the case (see R v Legal Aid Board No 15 Area (Merseyside) ex parte Eccleston, The Times, May 6, 1998". The case quoted was one where a litigant needed to travel a long distance to see an expert and the Legal Aid Board was ordered to fund the travel. I would have thought that the expression 'so impecunious that it is not otherwise possible to progress the case' would cover most parents on benefits who need to attend court but I am aware that solicitors are often uncertain of what will and won't be allowed and so will not fund travel to court. It is more common for social services to end up doing so though this is almost always a source of dispute at least to begin with. It would be nice to have a clear view on this. Comments please! By the way the blog is now open for comments so it is much easier than it was before to join in a discussion so please feel free to do so.

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