On 16th August 2012 the LSC issued new guidance on submitting claims. The revised guidance became mandatory for all claims submitted after 1 September 2012. The news item stated that updates were made in the following areas:
Evidence requirements for counsel payments on account
Confirmation that the £2500 file value excludes VAT and counsel fees
Confirmation that, where claimed, the panel membership declaration must be signed on claims assessed by the LSC and the court
Confirmation that hearing times should be detailed where advocacy is being claimed under FAS.
There were however two areas that we felt needed further clarification:
£2500 file value:
Their guidance document sets out when your file of papers are required to be submitted with your claim. In non fixed fee cases they only require the papers if the costs are over £2500. The news item stated that this figure excludes Counsel’s fees and VAT; however the guidance document simply stated that it was total costs excluding VAT. We have checked this with the LSC and they have confirmed that the news item is not correct and that it should be the total costs excluding VAT that are taken into account.
We have sought further clarification on precisely what is required in support of the FAS claims further to the statement that ‘hearing times should be detailed’. The initial indication from the LSC is that they want to be able to see if a lunch break has been taken and whether this time has been excluded from the calculation. Under FAS any period in which the Court is adjourned for lunch should be disregarded (unless work continued during the break). Although we have been advised that copies of attendance notes could be supplied to provide this information, we have requested that they provide full details of what they require so that we can try to eliminate problems at assessment. For example In some cases an attendance note may not specifically state whether a lunch break was or was not taken. In the meantime, pending further clarification, it would be wise to supply copies of attendance notes together with the Advocates Attendance Form. If necessary when submitting the claim it could also be stated that there were no lunch breaks for any of the hearings attended and therefore the times have been claimed in full as per the advocates attendance forms. Full clarification will of course be circulated when received from the LSC.