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Legal Aid Agency Financial Relief for Legal Aid Firms

 

On the 27th March 2020, the Legal Aid Agency issued a number of options to help with cash flow.

Civil/Family Legal Aid Cases

You can claim up to 75% of your profit costs incurred to date under any legal aid certificate that has been in existence for at least 3 months.

You can also claim 75% of applicable fixed fees, including under the Family Advocacy Scheme (FAS).

Crime – Crown Court

Litigators can claim an interim claim for costs incurred at one of the following stages in the proceedings:

  • After the first hearing at which the assisted person enters a plea of not guilty.
  • After commencement of a trial which is listed for 10 or more days.
  • There are other stages mentioned in the guidance.

All Crown Court Representatives can submit a claim for hardship in the following circumstances:

  • You have spent at least 6 months on the case.
  • You are unlikely to receive payments in the following 3 months.
  • You are able to claim for more than £5,000 on the case.
  • ·You are likely to suffer financial hardship.

Firms will still have to produce evidence of financial hardship, but this should not be too difficult given the current downturn in criminal activity, arrests and prosecutions.

Recommended Action

Given that the LAA state that they will take a flexible approach in relation to the above matters and in relation to some technically defective claims (rejects), we would recommend that firms take advantage of this offer as early as possible with a view to mitigating potential cash flow problems in a few months’ time.

It also may benefit Directors of firms to deal with claims now in case they have to furlough themselves at some point during this difficult economic situation, as submitting claims then may result in them “working” and becoming ineligible for government grants towards their own salaries.

For full details of the financial relief available from the Legal Aid Agency, please see the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-relief-for-legal-aid-practitioners