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.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Legal Aid Update: Very High Cost Cases Part I

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.

Sources of information

Justice website page

High Cost Cases Family Information Pack (dated 1.4.13)

Events model packs – there are three

• single counsel - latest guidance is dated 1.5.13
• two counsel - latest guidance is dated 1.4.13
• solicitor advocates – just released – guidance dated - 7.10.13

CONTACTS AT THE LAA

For 2 counsel cases - highcostcivil@legalaid.gsi.gov.uk

For all events based plans VHCCEvents@legalservices.gsi.gov.uk

For normal high cost case plans vhcc.queries@legalaid.gsi.gov.uk

1 VHCCs are those cases where the costs exceed £25,000 excluding VAT but including all disbursements/counsel fees. For some time, solicitors were required to prepare a costed case plan for future costs on an hourly basis (save in cases where there were two counsel and solicitors which were usually paid by events)

2 The LAA makes no secret of the fact that they prefer events based plans for high cost cases and they think that there are many benefits for practitioners too. The LAA are keen to encourage solicitors to use the events based models.

3 The LAA have for some time now been offering solicitors the option of an events plan for public law care cases where there is a single counsel and the case is in the county court/high court. One of the disadvantages of this events model was that it was not very attractive to solicitor advocates who were conducting some, if not all, the advocacy in the case. Thus the LAA conducted a small pilot with some firms to test out a solicitor advocacy events model and this is now being offered to all solicitors.

4 Thus where you have a public law case with one counsel or where you have done some of the advocacy yourself you have the choice of either

a. one of the two events based models or

b. you can still opt for the original type of fully costed case plan.

5 The normal costed case plan remains the only route for private law and other public law cases (including rule 16 cases) although it may still be worth enquiring about an events model as we have experience of it being accepted on a discharge of care order case.

6 There is a comprehensive information pack on the LAA website and the model packs for each type of plan (see above). They are set out clearly and are relatively easy to read.


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