Resolution is working with the LAPG and others to seek to support providers as the rapidly changing situation develops. We appreciate you and your firms are having to make your own plans and have your own concerns. Resolution’s Legal Aid Committee asked the LAA to urgently consider various measures including:
- Non-means testing for emergency DV applications and any linked CA applications
- Suspending the permanent presence requirement for all offices
- Allowing all emergency private law applications to use Apply – if non-means tested all urgent work can filter through Apply
- Payment of FAS as interim bills (the facility is there as we request 100% payment on one aspect of a certificate concluding when a second is ongoing) – this would allow payment at 100% and be easily assessed remotely with very low risk
- Removing the three-month restriction for raising a profit cost POA on certificates
- Confirming providers can raise a POA for the relevant fixed fee (unless they pass the escape threshold)
- Putting pressure on HMRC for a VAT suspension
- Confirming audits are suspended until further notice.
You can see the latest LAA guidance here. If you find examples of a flexible and pragmatic approach not being taken to contract management please contact Chris.Minnoch@lapg.co.ukor Kate.Pasfield@lapg.co.uk
In view of the guidance received from the President of the Family Division regarding hearings, and confirmation that almost all family hearings will now be held remotely, we have asked for clarification of the LAA’s position on FAS forms not being signed.
The Civil Finance Electronic Handbook, at paragraph 6.11, states that “We do not require an advocates attendance form where a hearing is heard by telephone or video conference. In its place, the court order and attendance notes should be submitted to verify the hearing”. We understand that judges are approving recitals along the lines below:
 The Court granted an application made on behalf of the Children for remote attendance to this hearing. In respect of the parties attendance, they have attended, remotely, from XX until XX for the hearing and from XX until XX in respect of pre-hearing discussions by telephone.
 The costs of remote hearing attendance are to be borne by HMCTS to enable the fair participation of all parties having due to regard to Government Guidance and recommendations by professional bodies regarding court attendance during the Covid 19 pandemic.
 Due to the parties’ remote attendance at court, the parties have referred the Court to The Civil Finance Electronic Handbook which, at paragraph 6.11, states as follows: “We do not require an advocates attendance form where a hearing is heard by telephone or video conference. In its place, the court order and attendance notes should be submitted to verify the hearing”. For the avoidance of doubt, that is why the parties’ attendance times are recorded in the order as confirmation of the same.
We have asked for clarification that FAS forms can be completed allowing for the pre-hearing negotiations which will still be taking place and post hearing drafting and so on. We have explained to the LAA that providers will also not have originals on their files, just scanned copies and have asked the LAA to confirm that these will be acceptable. We will keep members updated.
Relevant coronavirus related news from Resolution and partners is available here and will be regularly updated.