Family Public Funding Certificates- New £25K limitation
The LAA have taken a step in the right direction and have introduced a simplified approach to certificated family work. The LAA are now granting legal aid certificates with a costs limitation of £25,000 for most family proceedings.
Following a successful pilot, the change applies for all certificates granted from 19 April 2019.
The change means that it will reduce the need altogether to submit a costs amendment throughout the lifetime of a case and will free up administrative time spent collating and submitting evidence. Providers will just need to keep a careful eye on the scope of proceedings covered under the certificate and if the matter should be registered as a high costs case.
Cases with existing limitations (i.e. those issued before 19 April 2019) will be amended in line with the new arrangements.
For Special Children Act proceedings CCMS will automatically offer £25,000 as the default cost limit. For other qualifying proceedings providers will need to request the £25,000 limit in the Proceedings and Costs section of the application.
We recently undertook work for a firm of solicitors on a child abduction matter, and they were the 2nd firm of solicitor acting in the matter. The matter concluded in December 2018 and the costs limitation was £18,675.
Upon considering the file it was apparent that the costs of the 1st firm of solicitors had exceeded the initial £10,000 (the costs limitation on transfer). The LAA had confirmed that the initial firm would be limited to the costs limitation on transfer only. Therefore that only left £8,675 for our firm of instructing solicitors. This amount was soon taken up by counsel fees and disbursements, without taking into account any of the substantial profit costs the solicitor had incurred.
As the matter had already concluded and it being a real long shot, the following advice, by our talented costs draftsman, was given to the instructing solicitors to submit by way of a case enquiry.
“We note from 19th April 2019 that family certificates are being issue with a standard costs limitation of £25,000 from the start of proceedings and that guidance does say Certificates with existing limitations will be amended in line with the new arrangements. Can the certificate in this particular case be amended in line with the new arrangements and a certificate of £25K be issued.”
To everyone’s astonishment the LAA did grant a £25,000 costs limitation and the instructing solicitor was entitled to claim and get paid for another £6,325 of costs that they had effectively written off.
It is importance to make sure that you are obtaining the £25K certificate from the start on all certificates issued since 19 April 2019. For those certificates issued before that date, we would strongly advise providers to make an amendment for funding to enable the LAA to issue you with a costs limitation on the certificate for £25K.
As you can see at John M Hayes we take all aspects of legal aid costing seriously and leave no stone unturned in order to maximise your costs. Call us today to see how we can assist you with any aspect of legal aid billing.
Friday 9th August 2019