Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Family fees announced

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has today announced the fees for family cases. These had been subject to intense negotiations with representatives from legal aid providers. If publication of the fees had been delayed the whole bid round process for civil legal aid might have been put in jeopardy. But the fees could still be subject to a legal challenge.

Family cases take up over half of all expenditure on civil legal aid. It would have been difficult for firms to bid for contracts in the other areas of civil law without knowing the fees for family work. Hourly rates for advocacy will be abolished under the scheme and a system of standard fees will be introduced.

Barristers stand to lose out on the fees as while the government claims that the overall budget for family cases will stay the same the amounts paid to barristers will go down. The intention, the government says, is to pay the same to solicitors and barristers for the work. LAG understands that there is much disagreement over the data on which the new fees are based and that the Bar had wanted further time for analysis of this.

Fees for private law family work (mainly divorce and custody matters) have been subject to bitter wrangling behind the scenes and some practitioners are questioning the viability of the proposed fees. The government will wait with bated breath to see if the Bar will move to bring a judicial review to challenge the scheme and risk derailing the civil contract bid rounds.

1 comment:

Medical Negligence Solicitor said...

This cost-cutting exercise follows classic lines -- divide and conquer. The LSC take it in turns to attacks solicitors and pastors -- with each side of the profession not wanting to make a fuss when their counterparts rates get slashed on the basis of massive relief that their own rates were not it again. The LSC is nothing but predictable -- they will continue to take turns in attacking the bar and solicitors and the only thing that can be guaranteed is a continuing reduction in rates of pay.