Over the past few weeks we have been delivering our ‘Family Legal Aid Costs: Getting it Right’ seminar throughout England & Wales. During these seminars it has become apparent that some firms are finding that their advocates attendance forms are being rejected by the LAA if all of the boxes completed are not individually initialled by the Judge or sealed. This is incorrect and therefore we felt it would be useful if we made everyone aware of the guidance on this so that they can contest any such rejections.
The LAA’s Civil Finance Electronic Handbook states on page 30:
We can only make payments for any bolt on payments initialled or sealed by the court. Each bolt on claimed must be initialled or sealed individually.
Any amendments must be certified by the court or the judge/legal advisor
The advocates attendance form needs to be signed by the judge and any bolt ons initialled or sealed. There is no requirement to seal the AAF if it has been signed – it must be one or the other.
There is no requirement for the judge to initial the start and finish times only the form overall.
Therefore it can be seen that the only items that need to be individually initialed or sealed are bolt ons and anything that has been amended on the form.
It is important that you contest any incorrect rejections using the reject fix email address email@example.com and we would advise keeping a record of every occasion that you successfully challenge a rejection so that you can subsequently check that it has not remained on your list of rejections.