Civil legal aid accounts: factors we consider when assessing additional fee requests in block fee schedule 6 cases

You should be aware that where an additional fee is being sought, regard should be had to the case cost limit imposed to the grant of legal aid [section 14(1F) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986]. The cost limit has no bearing on the decision to grant an additional fee, so be mindful of your responsibility to ensure that where an additional fee is granted, the cost limit in place is sufficient to meet the cost of the accounting.

List of Schedule 6 (Chapter III) factors in assessment of additional fee requests

The following eight clearly identifiable and objectively verifiable criteria are what we will consider before allowing any additional fee. It is important that you demonstrate in the application for an additional fee that:

  • Any or all of the circumstances below apply
  • They had a significant effect on the conduct of the case which justifies a payment over and above the prescribed fee

We have sole discretion whether to allow any uplift.

The factors are:

  • Your client’s inadequate knowledge of English requires instructions to be taken through an interpreter or significantly increased the duration of meetings necessary to take instructions.
  • Although able to attend meetings at your office your client suffered for a significant period of the case from a severe substance abuse problem, a mental disorder [Section 328]
  • Your client suffered from a physical disability which necessitated a significantly lengthier process.
  • Your client was for a significant period in relation to the overall duration of the case, unable to attend your office by reason of disability, illness or imprisonment.
  • the nature or circumstances of the case necessitated significant attendance to its progress out with normal office hours.
  • Your client or any other witness in the case is a vulnerable witness [section 11] and this has necessitated significant additional work in seeking, or opposing, or implementing a special measure for the taking of evidence from a vulnerable witness.
  • That the law in relation to the matter at issue was particularly complex and involved an area of law with which a solicitor engaged in general court practice would be unlikely to be familiar.
  • The case raised unusually complex issues of fact, including detailed consideration of extensive documentary evidence.

Note on the application of chapter III of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989 

(a) Except where an uplift is granted under paragraph 5, 6 or 7 above, the element of your fee subject to an uplift will exclude any amount charged in relation to time spent waiting or appearing at, court.

(b) Only one of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 may be claimed in any case.

(c) An uplift may not be granted under paragraph 7 above where a fee under paragraph 4(k) of the table of fees in Chapter II of Schedule 6 is claimed.

(d) The solicitor of an assisted person, who is a vulnerable witness, may not claim in respect of the assisted person the additional fee under paragraphs 2, 3 or 4, if there is a claim under paragraph 5A in respect of the assisted person as a vulnerable witness.

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