Preparation fees

You are only entitled to charge a preparation fee if:

  • A proof or other hearing has been fixed; and
  • The case subsequently either proceeds to proof or has been settled or abandoned

Where a proof or debate has been fixed and the case settled or abandoned, you are entitled to the lowest preparation rate as prescribed in paragraph 5(a)(i) [of Chapter 2 of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989].

If the case is settled or abandoned within 14 days of the proof diet, the middle preparation fee is chargeable as prescribed in paragraph 5(a)(ii).

Most cases, notwithstanding the circumstances, will tend to involve settlement or abandonment. However, a possible exception is where civil legal aid is withdrawn and the client refuses to abandon the proceedings. A preparation fee might not be chargeable in these circumstances depending on the stage at which legal aid is withdrawn. If the situation arises you should discuss this with our Accounts staff.

In recognition that the courts with the agreement of the parties may fix an evidential child welfare hearing, the preparation for proof fee 5(a) covers any case that proceeds to an evidential child welfare hearing.

This fee is chargeable only once in a case (rule 15 of Chapter 2 of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989)

Only one preparation for proof fee is chargeable in any case as follows:

  • Fee where action settled or abandoned not later than 14 days before the diet of proof. (18 units)
  • Fee where the action settles within 14 days of, or on the day of, or after the diet of proof or evidential child welfare hearing but without evidence being led. (24 units)
  • Fee in any other case where evidence is led (to include settling with witnesses and enquiring for cause at avizandum, if required.) (36 units)

This last fee includes any preparation for a debate on evidence.

Fee 5(a)(iii) includes any preparation for a debate on evidence

Fees for preparation for debate

The fee prescribed by paragraph 5(b) is to cover all work in preparing for any debate, where such debate takes place prior to proof or proof before answer (8 units).

This fee can only be claimed in relation to a debate in law (rule 16 of Chapter 2 of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989)

Preparation for child welfare hearing

This fee covers preparation for all continued diets. A further preparation fee is only payable in the event of a further and distinct child welfare hearing being fixed by the court in response to further identifiable circumstances.

We will assume that any hearing following shortly after the initial diet is a continuation unless there is clear information to show that it is a distinct child welfare hearing being fixed by the court.

Payment of a fee for attending at and conducting the hearing is always payable.

The regulations allow for a fee to be charged for all child welfare hearings.

  • A higher fee is payable for all work preparing for the first hearing
  • A lower fee to cover preparing for each subsequent hearing, irrespective of whether it is further or distinct from the previous hearing

The initial child welfare hearing will be paid at the higher rate of 6 units, and a fee of 3 units will be paid for each subsequent hearing.

The higher (6 unit) fee is only payable in respect of the first child welfare hearing that takes place in the proceedings. Where there is a transfer of solicitor it is not payable to the incoming solicitor where a child welfare hearing has already taken place.

Commission to take evidence: fees

The fee prescribed by paragraph 5(d) [of Chapter 2 of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989] is to cover all work preparing for taking evidence or executing specification on open commission or on optional procedure.

The fees are:

  • You arranging commission (8 units)
  • For opposing solicitor (4 units)
  • Where optional procedure adopted, fee for each person on whom the specification is served (1 unit)
  • For perusing documents recovered, per 15 minutes (1 unit). This work is covered by a time charge.

Preparation for appeal to Sheriff Appeal Court: fees

The fee prescribed by paragraph 5(e) [of Chapter 2 of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989] is for all work preparing, including marking or noting of appeal, for an appeal to the Sheriff Appeal Court. (12 units)

You should not infer from this fee that an appeal is automatically covered under the original grant of legal aid where this is a case of first instance. Appellate proceedings before the Sheriff Principal are “distinct proceedings” in terms of the regulations and a fresh application is generally required (rule 18 of Chapter 2 of Schedule 6 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989).

The exception to this rule is where an appeal is being taken or opposed in connection with an interim order, and your client holds a civil legal aid certificate for proceedings in the court of first instance. You can apply to extend that certificate to cover such an appeal, rather than making a fresh application.

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