I have found John M Hayes to be reliable and efficient, always willing to deal with any queries or matters arising and most importantly of all, to have detailed knowledge of current costs law.
Sarah Lapsley, Chestnutts Solicitors, Southport
LAA to assess all claims?
The assessment of ‘court assessed bills’ are changing and will be assessed by the LAA. The LAA are currently in the process of agreeing a transfer date with HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
Providers are potentially set to benefit from the change, which could help ease your cash flow.
Providers have in recent weeks, gone without payment for cases because of court closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The assessment of all claims by the LAA will remove the need for claims to go before the courts. This potentially will mean faster payments, however will the influx of claims to be assessed by the LAA slow down the assessment process.
What will happen next?
Whilst the LAA agree a transfer date with HMCTS, the new provisions are optional.
The LAA are set up to receive all claims, regardless of amount of assessable costs, from 1 June 2020.
The LAA will be making amendments to the Cost Assessment Guidance to reflect the change in the process. We will keep you updated in respect of this.
Previously proceedings that concluded in front of a District Judge, where costs incurred were over £2500 were assessed by the court. However from 1 June 2020, until the provisions become mandatory, providers have the option of all costs being assessed by the LAA rather than by the courts. This will depend on what the provider wishes, based on the following factors:
Options- What to submit?
An EX80A/B should be prepared and sealed by the court. A post assessment claim should be prepared in CCMS as normal and any evidence in support should be uploaded when requested to include the Bill of Costs, disbursement vouchers, FAS forms and applicable orders.
You can claim all the costs of assessment that have been incurred.
You will submit the Bill of Costs to the Court and then follow option 1 above.
This applies where a Bill of Costs has been prepared, but the assessment process is incomplete.
You will need to submit a post assessment style claim on CCMS and when asked has the claim been assessed at court, you need to answer yes. You will then need to enter the summary level lines, e.g. Profit Costs (Summary), Advocacy (Summary), Disbursements Summary.
The evidence to be uploaded is as follows completed Bill of Costs, Disbursement Vouchers, FAS forms, Court Orders. The bill of costs should clearly indicate the rates applied and justification for any enhancement claimed referencing panel membership where applicable.
The LAA will then undertake an assessment of the entire claim.
The LAA will accept a line by line or XML CCMS hourly rates claim.
Any evidence in support should be uploaded when requested to include the disbursement vouchers, FAS forms and applicable orders and any attendance note for any work over 3 hours. No full file of papers are required to be sent to the LAA.
At John M Hayes, maximising your costs is at the heart of what we do. Therefore we will be advising all providers that the best option, whilst the provisions are optional, will be to have a Bill of Costs prepared in the normal manner and to be assessed by the Court as this has the best chance of maximising your costs on assessment and to avoid any unnecessary reductions and subsequent preparation of appeals to the LAA.
Inter partes costs in legal aid cases
Where there is an ‘inter partes’ element to the proceedings, the court will retain the right of assessment. These claims should continue to be prepared as normal.
Contact the LAA
If you are in doubt or have any questions you can contact us directly or the LAA:
If you have files that need costing, please contact your local Regional Manager or call us on 0370 300 3780 now. We are here to help!
Tuesday 2nd June 2020