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, 11 December 2013

Legal Aid Update Part 2: FAS Scheme - Start Times, Finish Times & Travel

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.

7. Start Times

7.1. Start time on FAS form is from when you arrive at court or when you are directed to arrive at court (or the actual hearing time if no earlier time specified) whichever is the later.

7.2. LAA will ask for the court order listing the case to be supplied with the claim so make sure you have not started your time too early.

7.3. Important to encourage courts to direct that legal representatives arrive at least 30 minutes, if not one hour, before hearing to allow for discussions.

7.4. If no such direction made then only arrive at time of hearing to encourage courts to make directions in future to show how much their court lists depend on us being able to negotiate.

7.5. If you arrive early and engage in negotiations you will not get paid for it and indeed could reduce the amount you are able to claim one hour, being the lowest fee.

7.6. For final hearing the start and finish time is irrelevant and does not need to be recorded on the form. However, if you think there may be some doubt about whether it is a final hearing or you can claim for a final hearing at all in a private law case, it may still be worth recording the time on the form in case of dispute with LAA over whether it really was a final hearing or not and you have to revert to claiming as an interim hearing.

7.7. If attending for an ex-parte application, the start time will be when the papers are issued so the waiting around to get papers issued does not form part of FAS. If no papers actually issued before going before Judge then it is presumed that start time will be when the hearing actually starts before the Judge. If papers issued but then not possible to get hearing heard that day the end time will be when advocates informed of this and the case will start again at the time the advocate told to attend the next day.

7.8. If hearing by video or tele-conference without attendance at court, the hearing time will start from the time that the call/videoconference is first attempted and not when hearing actually listed.

7.9. The start time does not need to be stamped or initialled.

8. Finish Time

8.1. When the case actually concludes in court before the Judge or at such a future time as the court is prepared to allow if it has asked you to finalise the order before leaving court. It is not the time when you leave the court building.

8.2. For interim hearings you simply put down the end time no matter which day but remember to complete the number of days section as well if goes over one day. This can have the weird effect that you can appear to finish before you started if the hearing commenced at 2pm one day and finished at noon the next day – doing legal aid really is like going back in time!

8.3. For the avoidance of doubt this means that you should still have only one FAS form per hearing and not per day of hearing.

8.4. You should also be aware that unless the court directs you to be there early on the subsequent days of interim hearings you will only get paid for the time the hearing is listed. Therefore try and get the court to direct you to be there early on subsequent days. This can be recorded on the order that is drafted from the interim hearing setting out the times for the attendance on days 2 and subsequent days. This is particularly important if the hearing is listed as a final hearing but becomes an interim one.

8.5. Not necessary to put down a start and end time if final hearing as get paid by the day (but see 7.6 above).

8.6. If court not prepared to allow more time yet is seeking to ask you to finalise the order then you will need to insist on coming back before the court to have the order approved or else none of that time will be paid for.

8.7. All advocates should have the same end time on their forms, save in exceptional circumstances.

8.8. The end time does not need to be stamped or initialled

8.9. Finalising the order by correspondence after the hearing is all part of FAS and so you are best to try and resolve it at court within time allowed by the court.

9. Travel to Court

9.1. Included in your FAS fee (unless bolt-on applies – see following post).

9.2. Travel costs can still be claimed as a disbursement (remember £20 inc VAT limit on needing a receipt).

9.3. Mileage can be claimed as a disbursement and need to attach attendance note to any claim whether final or on account.

9.4. Client’s travel can be claimed but must have receipt and record the reason why it was paid

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