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Once it comes to light that a care matter is going to exceed costs of £25,000, it is time to register it as High Costs. Previously, the only option would be to prepare a fully costed hourly rates case plan which would need updating and negotiating with the Legal Aid Agency on a regular basis. Now, it is important to consider whether one of the CCFS (previously Events) case plan models would be financially beneficial for you.
Rather than being remunerated at hourly rates, for a solicitor, an ‘event’ fee is claimed per hearing day or advocates’ meeting. Event fees are applied retrospectively and will apply to all costs from the issue of the funding certificate. Whilst it may seem alien to scrap hourly rates, the CCFS scheme can prove to be rewarding in terms of both time and money.
How do you work out which model is best for you? Estimate your profit costs to date, ensuring you allow for a potential discretionary enhancement. Divide your total costs to date by the amount of hearing days and advocates’ meetings to date. If the figure reached is less than the relevant ‘event’ fee, then you are better off utilising a CCFS case plan. It is also important to consider the amount of future hearing days, as this could also push the case further towards the CCFS case plan corner.
What are the relevant ‘event’ fees? It depends on which model you opt for. If Counsel has been the main advocate, the Single Counsel CFFS fees apply. If the main hearing is 10 days or less, a rate of £774 is used. If the main hearing is more than 10 days long, a rate of £531 is used. If you have undertaken some of the advocacy, the Solicitor Advocate CCFS fees apply. For days where you were the advocate, you will receive £1157 per event, or £707 plus the relevant FAS fee, depending which is more profitable for you. On days where Counsel was the advocate, you will receive £707 if the main hearing is less than 10 days and £504 where the main hearing exceeds 10 days.
By way of an example; If you have attended all hearings to date, of which there were 14 days and your current profit costs were £12,000, you would be financially better off utilising a Solicitor Advocate CCFS case plan as your costs would be boosted from £12,000 to £16,198 (£1157 x 14 days).
There are different fees for matters where authority to instruct Queen’s Counsel has been granted by the LAA.
Further advantages to the CCFS model case plans include:
Don’t shy away from the unknown; for assistance in registering your matter as High Costs, deciding on the most profitable model and preparing your case plan, please do not hesitate to contact your local John M Hayes Office.