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.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Legal Aid Update: Miscellaneous

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. Miscellaneous Points Which Have Been Established

12.1. Only one FAS form needed per hearing

12.1.1. One form only needed no matter how many clients you act for. Choose one Legal Aid Certificate to be included. Remember to include all Legal Aid certificate numbers on final claim for costs on case.

12.1.2. Claim your payment on account based on actual fees claimed not on a time recorded basis (albeit there may not be much difference between the two).

12.1.3. This means that you must keep a record of the actual fee incurred, either manually or on computer if possible.

12.1.4. Court does not keep a copy of FAS form.

12.1.5. A good precaution to scan in your FAS forms in case you lose the original. The LAA will not accept a scanned form but it should be easier to get the form signed off again by the court.

12.2 Hearing lasting ten days or more?

12.2.1 Hearings of ten days or more do not justify a change to a claim on hourly rates whether counsel or solicitor.

12.2.2 It is probable that a case involving such a hearing would be a VHCC and so become exempt but, of itself, there is no exemption as result of the old rule.

12.3 Post Hearing Discussions

12.3.1 These are not claimable under the FAS or as part of your preparation for the main fixed fee unless the court agrees to allow you that further time to finalise the order and signs off your form accordingly.

12.3.2 It may not make much difference depending where you are on your time at court in that it may be still some time before you could reach the next fee stage and, if final hearing, there is no end time as you simply get a daily rate.

12.3.3 However, it is still your time which you could be spending on other matters and so you are losing out in that way.

12.4 Preparation for Hearing

12.4.1 This is part of the fixed fee of advocacy and so MUST NOT be claimed as part of your main fixed fee except for cancelled hearings (see below).

12.4.2 Still important to record your preparation on your attendance note and time record it.

12.4.3 This makes it more difficult to escape main fixed fee when acting for children.

12.4.4 Remember to be vigilant to capture all the time you spend on your perusal of documents during the case – the LAA will allow a minimum of 2 minutes for the most straightforward A4 sheet.

12.4.5 Preparing skeleton arguments and written submissions will be part of FAS fee. It may be possible for the judge to allow extra time on FAS for an interim hearing if he is seeking to reduce his time at court at your expense by directing written submissions. In a final hearing you can only claim a daily rate so extra time may be of no help to you. Some courts may choose to list a hearing day with the expectation that you prepare your submissions. If that is listed, you should be able claim it as a hearing day.

12.4.6 Position statements are part of preparation for advocacy if prepared by the advocate (whether solicitor or counsel). If prepared by solicitor, and counsel attends then clearly not part of advocacy fee and the solicitor should claim it as part of the main fixed fee.

12.4.7 If Position Statement is prepared by the solicitor with conduct but the hearing is conducted by another solicitor we believe it is not part of Advocacy fee. Again, we hope to clarification of this for the conference

12.4.8 If counsel prepares a position statement then there is no means of claiming for this other than as part of FAS so no benefit in counsel doing it. Will solicitors be put under more pressure to produce them or will counsel’s desire not to be shouted at by Judge mean they will still do it?

12.4.9 Cancelled hearings: If external advocate, that person can claim for a one hour hearing without bolt-ons (no FAS form) if they have done more than 30 mins preparation and hearing cancelled at any time after receiving papers. If internal advocate, that person can claim for preparation as part of the main fixed fee for any preparation actually undertaken for that cancelled hearing.

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