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, 18 December 2013

Legal Aid Update: Miscellaneous Part 3

Kindly written & supplied by Jerry Bull (Managing Director of Atkins Hope, Solicitors in Croydon) & Samantha Little (Partner & Head of the Children Law Team at Russell-Cooke in Kingston) from their talk to the ALC Conference.

12.10 Advocates meeting

12.10.1 Only possible in public law – not private law.

12.10.2 Ensure they are directed each time to avoid any problems with LAA who indicate they only expect 2 per case. However, they have indicated that they will not seek to go behind court directions for more than two advocates meetings.

12.10.3 Can be claimed if taking place on same day as hearing but can not double claim time – in other words you either claim the time as being on the advocates meeting or as being on the hearing.

12.10.4 Preparation for the advocates meeting will be included in your advocacy fee and should be recorded.

12.10.5 Does not matter whether it takes place face to face or by telephone. There is even less sense in attending such meetings in person.

12.10.6 If an advocates meeting is directed but all advocates manage to “resolve all relevant matters without the need for such a meeting” (presumably by email or series of telephone calls) then can still claim half the relevant fee for the advocates meeting. This will need a carefully recorded note to prove it to LAA as it will be unusual.

12.10.7 LAA will only need the court orders directing the advocates meetings with the Claim if more than two such meetings. If they seek to reject your claim because no orders supplied when two or less then use the claim fix-it email to challenge.

12.11 Taking instructions from client at court

Our own view is as follows:-

• We can see no reason why you can not arrange to meet your client either early at court or stay behind at court afterwards and claim that time as part of the main fixed fee rather than the advocacy fee. There seems to be no requirement to see the client in your office to take instructions. However, make sure that any attendance note of the taking of these instructions is entirely separate to your attendance note for the hearing.

• If you are taking instructions from client at court in the normal run of the hearing then this would form part of the advocacy fee.

• Comforting client at end of hearing does not count towards your time for the advocacy fee!

12.12 Maximum Fee principle

• This has now gone under FAS.

• This has the significant advantage that we can now claim for briefing counsel at the FPC and for correspondence etc with counsel. Such work will form part of your main fixed fee.

• As the LAA is insisting on counsel having briefs before they can get paid this is helpful to us.

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