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, 4 February 2014

Legal Aid Update: Very High Cost Cases Part IV - Solicitor Advocacy events - & pros & cons

Solicitor advocacy events model

27 Many of the provisions as set out above apply here.

28 The main difference is that for hearings where the solicitor undertakes the advocacy, the solicitor can be paid a different rate. The rate is EITHER a fixed event fee (currently £1157) OR a lower event fee (£707) plus the FAS fee. Once you have chosen which of these you want, you have to stick with it for the hearings that you cover yourself.

29 For the other hearings that a barrister covers, you get a solicitor event fee. These solicitor event fees are slightly lower than the events fees for the junior counsel model.

30 The fees are different depending on whether the main hearing is more or less than 10 days.

31 There is only one rate for the solicitor advocacy event for the county and high court. However there are different solicitor event rates where counsel covers the hearing depending on whether the hearing is in the County or high court.

32. As a general rule you need to have done a significant number of hearings to make it worthwhile to use this model.

32 Under this model, chairing an experts’ meeting is still not remunerated as an event BUT the LAA have said they will keep this under review, and so they ask that you let them know if you have had to chair the experts’ meeting in your plan.

Pros and cons

33 Reasons for using an events plan

• The drafting of the plan is very much simpler and will save on costs drafts fees and can be done more quickly
• The plan can be submitted more easily and is usually agreed more quickly as it is simpler and the LAA will respond much more quickly (in July 2013, they said that 90% of events based plans were processed with 10 working days)
• You can get 100% payment on account of the events that have taken place so far
• The final bills are simpler (no need for breakdown of time) and paid more quickly.
• If you use the events based model, if you go over your pre-contract costs limit, the LAA usually allow this to happen but only if it was the move to events that put you over. If you exceed the costs limit on your normal time basis they will not allow any leeway.
• Responsiveness of the team managing events based contracts

34 Why not use an events plan?

• In a very complex case with lots of evidence and there is lots of preparation/consideration time.
• where you are likely to be able to claim a large enhancement,
• Where there are few hearings/advocates’ meetings and the number of events simply does not come close to matching the value of the work done on the case

Miscellaneous points

35 The LAA have said that if you have any cases awaiting payment and you would like to convert them to an events claim, you can ask for them to be pulled from the queue and as long as you are prepared to resubmit them with a new plan (a relatively easy task in terms of simply claiming the hearing and advocates’ meetings) then you can re-submit and you will be paid much more quickly.

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