In our blog on 4th September 2012 we highlighted that the LSC now required ‘details of hearing times’ in support of FAS claims. The indications at the time were that they were intending to try to see whether there had been any adjournments for lunch. Under FAS any time during which the there is a lunch adjournment should be disregarded from the fee calculation unless work continued throughout. Following further correspondence with the LSC they have confirmed that it is this issue that they are wanting to look at when referring to requiring ‘details of hearing times’.
The LSC has stated to us that copies of the attendance notes should be provided however the LSC accept that in some cases this will not provide sufficient information to determine whether there was an adjournment for lunch, especially as many of the attendance notes would have been prepared before this requirement was introduced. Therefore in those circumstances it will be necessary to provide confirmation that there was no adjournment for lunch. This could be done in a covering letter when submitting the claims or on a separate sheet attached to the claim. We have also become aware that some fee earners have been annotating Advocates Attendance Forms with this information and getting the Judge to initial it in order to provide further evidence in support.
In addition we have checked on whether the LSC will also require a copy of the order confirming the listing time for all hearings. We have confirmation that this is not yet required however our belief is that this may well be something that is introduced in due course.
In conclusion then, if the start and end times on your advocates' attendance form straddle ‘lunch time’, you should be providing something to confirm that there was either no adjournment for lunch or that work continued throughout. We will be flagging these situations up for fee earners whenever we encounter them on the files that we are costing.
Moving forward, the most logical step would be an amended Advocates' Attendance form however as there appears to be no suggestion that this will happen we would recommend that all future file notes clearly address this point...you have been warned!
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