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.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Legal Aid Update Part 1: Family Advocacy Scheme

Another useful subject which is covered every year at the Association of Lawyers for Children conference (next year in Bristol on 13th -15th November 2014) is an update on Public Funding. I have the kind permission of the ALC & Jerry Bull (Managing Director of Atkins Hope, Solicitors in Croydon) & Samantha Little (Partner & Head of the Children Law Team at Russell-Cooke in Kingston) to publish their work in sections on the blog so a series of blog posts will follow.

Now listen very careful for I shall say this only once. The usual disclaimer applies (see this page on the main Family Law Week site) - the text is not guaranteed to be correct or up-to-date, may not be a definitive or complete statement of the law etc.

The first few posts will cover aspects of the Family Advocacy Scheme.

What cases are covered and what are exempt

1. Public Law

1.1. All applications for care or supervision orders.

1.2. This will not include whether court makes a care order or supervision order within private law proceedings of its own motion but where there is no actual application by a local authority for this. This is likely to become more common with the withdrawal of legal aid for most people.

1.3. Covers all levels of court to High Court.

1.4. Includes interlocutory appeals but not final appeals.

1.5. Includes all related proceedings, i.e. all proceedings heard together with public law proceedings or in which an order is being sought as an alternative to an order in such proceedings (e.g. SGO and/or Placement Orders). It will also include all private law proceedings which have become care proceedings or if heard together with them.

1.6. It is less clear about what happens if private law proceedings are not heard together but heard on the same day but immediately following on from care hearing. Our view is that these are separate proceedings and should be claimed as two cases but you may have an argument with LAA as to precisely how the hearings have been conducted.

2. Other Public Law Cases

This includes:-

2.1. Emergency Protection Orders.

2.2. Secure Accommodation Orders.

2.3. Discharge Care/Supervision Order.

2.4. Contact to Child in Care.
2.5. Extend/Vary Supervision Order.

2.6. Child Assessment Order.

2.7. Recovery of Abducted Child Order.

2.8. Adoption Proceedings.

2.9. Free standing Placement Order and Revocation of Placement Order.

3. Domestic Abuse

3.1. All usual family injunctions including injunctive relief in care proceedings under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Applications for a Forced Marriage Protection Order are excluded from the scheme although included in this definition for the purposes of the funding code.

3.2. An Avoidance of Disposition Order is not included neither are orders for maintenance or financial issues following an Occupation Order. Both should come within ancillary relief.

3.3. If, as is quite common, there is an overlap between domestic abuse and private law children you are entitled to choose which fee is going to be most profitable for you.

4. Private Law Children

This includes all applications for:-

4.1. Residence, Contact, Prohibited Steps.

4.2. Parental Responsibility.

4.3. Special Guardianship (freestanding).

4.4. Does not include any applications for maintenance or other Financial Orders.

5. Ancillary Relief and All Other Family Work

This covers:-

5.1. All ancillary relief proceedings.

5.2. All applications for a financial relief whether within divorce or Schedule 1 Children Act.

5.3. Other miscellaneous applications not falling in any other category above.

6. Main Exemptions

6.1. The following list below sets out the most usual exemptions which means that you do not claim under the FAS but continue to claim on hourly rates plus enhancements when justified. This is not an exhaustive list but simply sets out the ones that we usually deal with.

6.1.1. Acting for child in private law proceedings, adoption, and special guardianship (freestanding).

6.1.2. All VHCC cases although LAA will probably wish to agree the FAS scheme within your contract.(see below for more detail on VHCC)

6.1.3. Any party in international child abduction proceedings.

6.1.4. Proceedings under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to children.

6.1.5. An appeal against a final order.

6.1.6. Any proceedings at the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court.

6.2. It is interesting to note that where solicitors undertake work we have to claim at the hourly rates plus enhancements when justified as set out in the payment annex but counsel can claim such fees “as are deemed reasonable on assessment” albeit that the assessment of what is reasonable may take in to account the solicitor’s rates. This raises the real possibility of counsel being paid more for the same work than a solicitor in these circumstances.

6.3. If a single hearing includes “significant work in a matter falls within the scheme and is also excluded from the scheme then the whole hearing will be treated as excluded from the FAS”. If you are in any doubt, get a FAS from signed off just in case

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