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, 3 February 2014

Legal Aid Update: Very High Cost Cases Part III Events models - Junior Counsel Events Model

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.

Events model

13 You now have the choice to enter an events model with the LAA in a public law care case when you have junior counsel cases or cases where you have done some (but not necessarily all) of the advocacy. There are two separate events models.

Junior counsel events based model

14 If you decide to enter an “events” based contract, the whole case will be paid on the basis of a payment for each event, whether the events pre-date or post-date the high cost case contract.

15 An event is a day of hearing or an advocates meeting (whether the solicitor attends or not). Under the counsel model, if the solicitor does the advocacy, he/she will only get paid the solicitor’s event rate and not any additional payment for undertaking the advocacy.

16 Chairing an experts’ meeting is not an event. Writing submissions is not an event but the Court may set aside a hearing day for written submissions and that day will attract an event fee. If the main hearing is over 10 days and hearing days are set aside for judicial reading, the reading days are treated as overrun days on the basis that nobody attends court. Only one event can take place each day.

17 The event payments cover all your costs in the case – preparation; drafting; letters and calls; attending court with counsel or without.

18 The case plan is much simpler, as all it does is sets out the events and you do not cost the work by hourly rates. Approval of the plans and subsequent payment is usually much quicker.

19 There are two different event fees for the event depending on whether the main hearing (including fact finding) is listed for over 10 days or not. Do not confuse this with the number of hearings in the case. If more interim hearings are listed, further events fees can be claimed. However, if the main hearing runs over or finishes early, there are also rules for rates for under and over runs on listed final hearings (i.e. if the 10 day hearing collapses, you get a lower rate for the dates on which the court did not sit).

20 Note that the LAA will not automatically impose a change of price for the event if the hearing goes over 10 days or under 10 days at the last substantive hearing in the case

21 The LAA will pay 100% of events which have taken place by way of payment on account

22 There are County Court and High Court rates. If the case goes to the High Court and stays there, the applicable rate will be the rate for the Court where the case finished. If you have a County Court case which goes to the High Court for an interim hearing/issue to be decided, that hearing can be costed on an hourly basis although we have had experience of them agreeing an event in such a situation.

23 You will need to work out if this plan is suitable for your case. Establish your total costs with uplift (N.B uplift can still be sought on a fully costed case plan) and divide by the number of events. There may be reasons why, even though you might be paid less under an events plan than under a fully costed plan, you will opt for the events case plan.

24 If the main hearing is under 10 days Counsel is paid by FAS (or the FGFS if the legal aid certificate pre-dates 9.5.11); if the main hearing is over 10 days, Counsel is paid by an event payment (NB guidance not clear if Counsel can still opt for FGFS/FAS for hearings over 10 days)

25 If there are further events fixed, once the plan has been submitted, the LAA need to be notified and the plan amended in the same way as the plan is amended in the traditional model.

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