You should apply for an increase in authorised expenditure once the existing expenditure has been exhausted or in anticipation of further work which is likely to cost more than the existing expenditure limit.

With the exception of ABWOR for a sequestration, all work done is chargeable on a detailed fee basis: no block fees are prescribed and you must take care that all work done is within the initial limit or any increased limit in place at the time the work is carried out.

You should only undertake work envisaged and covered by the increase and should not use any expenditure to a limit authorised for any other purpose.  If you cannot demonstrate that the work undertaken falls within the purpose for which the authorised expenditure was granted, we cannot pay you.

A letter or telephone call in connection with requesting an increase, finding out whether it has been granted or seeking a review of a refusal is not chargeable.  We will not allow a separate charge for submitting a form online.

Potential abatement of work done before grant of prior approval for increase is effective

In assessing an account, we will presume that if we granted an increase in authorised expenditure on the same day the work was undertaken, you were granted that increase before carrying out the work. However, if it is clear from the surrounding circumstances that the work was carried out before the increase in authorised expenditure was allowed, we will abate any shortfall, since the work will be shown to have been carried out without our prior approval and outwith the limit of authorised expenditure at the time.

Restriction of accounts when work undertaken beyond limit of authorised expenditure

Where at any stage of the account, the work done exceeds the then limit of authorised expenditure, we will restrict the account to the level of authorised expenditure applicable at the time the work was carried out.

For example, where work done already totals £330 when you get an increase in authorised expenditure from £300 to £500, the fees and outlays (including VAT on the outlays) up to that point will be restricted to the £300 authorised expenditure.

In this event our practice is to allow any outlay (including VAT) in full, if possible, and to abate the fee.

In situations where work has been done before the increase is granted and no other issues arise in the account we will pay the account and notify you of the sum abated.  You should therefore not need to contact us about any shortfall in these situations.

Before contacting us because you believe there is a shortfall in payment, you should check the position on your file as to whether an increase was in place when the work was done.

Standard limits of authorised expenditure and use of increase templates

We have introduced standard limits of authorised expenditure for identifiable stages in a whole range of cases.  These “templates” are a simplified means of obtaining an increase in authorised expenditure in terms of the regulations in certain types of case which follow a similar pattern.

A template increase is not a block fee for the work done but is simply an upper limit set on the basis that you will be undertaking the usual work in connection with the particular, identified stages of the proceedings.    You still have to carry out the work and justify it on a detailed basis at the accounts stage.

The fact that we have granted an increase under a template does not mean that we accept, in advance, that all the work you actually carry out is reasonable.  We will assess the account, as always, in line with the standard of taxation, the regulations and the consequential policy and practice set out in this guidance.

You can only use a template for the purpose for which it was intended.  You must never apply an inappropriate template which nevertheless seems to be the “closest fit” or, alternatively, use any surplus authorised expenditure for some other purpose.  (For example, you cannot do conveyancing work under a template for divorce, as this work would not be covered by that template.)  You would have to ask for a separate increase in expenditure (non-template) for any work not specifically covered by the template even if you have sufficient authorised expenditure left from your template increase.  If you are in any doubt as to the application or appropriateness of a particular template you should make a normal increase request.

Where you use a template inappropriately we may

  • restrict the account to the level of a lower template – for example, if you had done conveyancing under the template for divorce with financial assets over £50,000, we might restrict the account to the level of divorce with assets under £50,000; or
  • abate work, although itself reasonable, not covered by the template.

In extreme circumstances, where the work done bears little relationship to the work set out in the template, we can abate the work, subject to the initial limit, in its entirety for want of appropriate increases in authorised expenditure.

A letter enclosing a request for a template increase is not chargeable.  We will not allow a separate charge for submitting the form whether by post or online.

Payment for outlays under A&A: inclusion in limit of authorised expenditure

You must get our prior approval, including an increase in authorised expenditure if required, before instructing an expert report or counsel.  This must be in place before you instruct the work.  It is not sufficient to obtain our approval, and the appropriate increase, before receiving the report or opinion.

VAT should be included in your assessment of costs.

You cannot ask the client to put you in funds to incur an outlay during any period when you are giving advice and assistance.

You should insert the outlay claimed in the account at the point when it was incurred  – that is, the date instructed and not the date it is paid.

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