This week we hear that less than two weeks after the voluntary pilot of the new electronic bill of costs began in the Senior Courts Costs Office, the start of the follow-on mandatory pilot has now been postponed for at least six months to October 2016. Find out more here. “Kicked” and “long grass”? Who knows, we will watch for updates with interest but for now the uncertainty continues.
We read with interest too, the Court of Appeal decision in Mischcon de Reya –v- Caliendo and Barnaby Holdings LLC rejecting an appeal against the favourable outcome from an application for relief from sanctions granted to a law firm who had failed to file a notice of funding within the prescribed time limits. At stake was the success fee incurred in the period between the seven days and the actual notification which is reported at about £45,000 of Claimant Solicitors’costs and £17,000 of Counsel’s, along with an ATE premium of up to £1.43m. A summary of the case can be found here
Elsewhere, Legal Cheek reports on the 900% rise in the number of litigants in person helped by volunteers working with the Personal Support Unit (PSU) since 2008. Yes, 900%. The total number of clients helped was at 5000 in 2008, rising to more than 20,000 in 2013-14, reaching nearly 40,000 the year after and is set to hit 50,000 in 2015-16. The dramatic upturn in numbers has occurred in the years following the major legal aid reforms which began in 2012. The PSU is staffed mainly by volunteer law students. “Kuzka’s Mother” comments rather bleakly in the comments section that follows the article on “people having to go to court themselves because legal advice and access to justice has become a luxury…..”What do you think?
Finally, the theme of “legal aid: facing the future” was embraced by the delegates at the LAPG conference last Friday. Our Head of Legal Aid, David Smith attended to deliver two successful workshops alongside Jane Pritchard of TV Edwards Solicitors on legal aid costs. Speakers attended from the Legal Aid Agency (did you know that the public sector spend on debt interest (£36 billion) is currently higher than the £34 billion spent on public order and safety (which includes the MOJ budget) according to Hugh Barrett, Director of Legal Aid Commissioning and Strategy at the Legal Aid Agency)? Find out more about the conference here