LAA to assess bills – your options now

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The LAA announced yesterday that it will be assessing all legal aid bills, as it has had the right to do under the Standard Civil Contract since 2010. The arrangement whereby HMCTS has assessed bills over £2,500 and under £25,000 will come to an end (except for disputed inter-partes bills). The LAA has told Resolution that this will result in speedier payments of up to £20m and should assist cash-flow problems.

You do not have to wait until the end of the consultation period to submit bills to the LAA, if you wish to do so.

It has to consult on some operational changes to the Costs Assessment Guidance (CAG). The consultation period is 14 days. It must then give 28 days notice of changes. The LAA is consulting on three issues:

  1. Changes to the CAG to reflect the LAA taking responsibility for assessments
  2. A proposal to change the Standard Civil Contract 2018 to allow practitioners to claim four payments on account in a 12-month period
  3. A proposal to change the CAG to clarify the circumstances when the Level 2 private law family fee may be claimed. This is designed to reflect that the vast majority of these cases will involve a risk of harm to a client or child and that negotiations in these cases may take a different form.

If you have any comments, please let us know before 10 June 2020.