Charges for citations, letters and electronic communication

Citations

The fee for framing each citation of a party includes the execution of the citation.

The citation, by way of Form G13, of a witness or haver, is chargeable at the non-formal rate under 4(b) of Schedule 5 or 3(i) of Schedule 3 along with a signing fee under 5(d).  Although there is no corresponding fee prescribed under Part 1, Schedule 3 for signing, we will consider a formal fee under paragraph 4.

In addition to this, where Form G12, certificate of citation of witness or haver, is completed by the solicitor, a formal charge applies under 5(c) of Schedule 5 or paragraph 4(iii) of Schedule 3 along with a signing fee under 5(d).  Again, although there is no corresponding fee prescribed under Schedule 3 for signing, we would consider a formal fee under paragraph 4.

The Act of Sederunt (Child Care and Maintenance Rules) 1997 apply in these cases and in particular and in particular Chapter 3.15 and 3.16 which sets out the position on the citation of witnesses.  In 3.15(e) you will see that citations can be sent by first class record delivery post.  Given this, we must enquire as to why it was necessary to instruct a sheriff officer, if charged for.

Where messengers-at-arms or sheriff officers have been instructed, the fee for framing the letter of instruction under paragraph 4(c) of Schedule 5 or 3(iii) of Part 1, Schedule 3 includes examining the execution and settling the relevant fee.

Letters

The framing of a letter is chargeable depending on whether it is of a non-formal or formal nature.  The rates are prescribed at:

  • Paragraph 4(g) of Schedule 5 or 3(v) of Schedule 3, for a non-formal letter.
  • Paragraph 5(f) of Schedule 5 or 4(ii) of Schedule 3, for a formal letter.

The difference between formal and non-formal letter is dependent on the nature and content of the letter. Letters which require little thought, legal expertise or specialised knowledge such as letters of acknowledgement, basic letters enclosing cheques etc. are chargeable at the formal rate. On the other hand a letter providing detailed instructions to counsel or an expert would be chargeable at the non-formal rate.

Lengthy letters

Letters are assessed having regard to their content and not solely by their length. The length of the letter is a relevant, but not determinate, factor in what we will pay.

Whilst writing to your client is an entirely reasonable charge, you should always set out the advice briefly, in plain English and focus it on the specific, material issues. We do not consider it reasonable to write in such lengthy or technical terms that the recipient could not reasonably be expected to understand.

Any references to legislation should be attached as an appendix or sheet apart. If this is included within the body of the letter, this should be discounted from the word count and charge.

Communication with family / friends

Legal aid is granted to your client only, and no charge can be made for any correspondence with relatives etc. If your client is a child, we will consider an exception where letters require to be sent to a parent or social worker, to arrange appointments on their behalf.  Accounts should make clear the reasons why it was necessary for such communication to be sent.

Confirmatory letters

A letter sent following a meeting confirming what was discussed and agreed at the meeting is essentially duplication of the discussions. You cannot charge twice for the same matter.

We will only allow a charge for non-confirmatory aspects of a letter for parts that add to views previously expressed or to information given.

However, we will allow a charge for a purely confirmatory letter where you satisfy us that in your opinion the letter was necessary as:

  • Your client’s frame of mind or ability to understand the proceedings
  • Your client did not accept the advice given
  • You must put on record a time limit and/or date or outcome of a hearing

Word count

The Table of Fees provides that a page shall consist of 125 words or numbers for letters other than a formal letter (for which there is a fixed charge).

We will only allow the charge to the extent to which the information is relevant to the advice being given and is concisely stated in plain English.

In assessing the number of chargeable pages, we will not take into account the:

  • Address
  • Reference
  • Greeting / Valediction
  • References or quotes from legislation

For these reasons, we may reduce the number of pages even where the number of words or numbers exceeds 125.

Letters of engagement

A letter of engagement sent to a client is not chargeable.  However, we will consider the appropriate word-count applicable to any part of the letter which contains case specific advice or information.

Acknowledgement letters

An acknowledgement letter is not chargeable unless it is to acknowledge the receipt of:

  • A cheque or payment.
  • Confidential information from the reporter.
  • A court document or document of a formal or confidential nature.

Reminder letters

We will not pay for a letter “chasing up” your client: it is for your client to keep in contact with you and this is not good use of public funds.

Letters “to call”

You cannot charge for a letter asking the client “to call” unless something has taken place that justifies a meeting or further advice.  The exception to this is where the letter “to call” is the final letter.

Similar letters

Where letters similar in content are sent to more than one person we will allow the first letter at the higher rate and the remainder at the formal rate.

Information submitted to us in support of a sanction application

We will consider a one page framing charge for the completion of the online application form.  Where there is insufficient space on the application form, we would consider a reasonable charge for the provision of necessary additional information on a paper apart.

Electronic communication

  • No fee is payable for a text message.

Where a letter is sent by way of an email or fax, the appropriate framing charge for the letter is chargeable.  An additional charge shall not be allowed for a covering email attaching, or a fax enclosing, a copy letter for which there is a separate charge.

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