A preparation fee is only allowable where:
Depending on the circumstances one of the following fees may be payable:
Where a proof or evidential child welfare hearing has been fixed and the case is settled or abandoned not later than 14 days before the diet of proof the lowest preparation rate would be payable.
Where the case is settled or abandoned within 14 days of the proof diet, the middle preparation fee is allowable.
If evidence is led the higher fee in paragraph is allowable.
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However, a possible exception is where civil legal aid is withdrawn and the client refuses to abandon the proceedings.
A preparation fee might not be chargeable in these circumstances depending on the stage at which legal aid is withdrawn.
In recognition that the courts, with the agreement of the parties, may fix an evidential child welfare hearing, the preparation fee covers any case that proceeds to an evidential child welfare hearing.
However, preparation fees are only chargeable once in a case.
So in the highly unlikely event that there was an evidential child welfare hearing and proof only one fee would be payable.
Where the proceedings involve a Child Welfare Hearing and/or an Initial Case Management Hearing one the following fees will be payable depending on the circumstances.
The fees under paragraph 5(aa) are payable subject to the following conditions:
It is important to note that the enhanced fee for the first Child Welfare Hearing applies to the first hearing in the cause and not necessarily the first hearing that you attend.
For example, if there is a transfer of solicitor and you are the new incoming solicitor and attend a child welfare hearing but that is not the first one in the cause you are only entitled to the lower three unit fee.
Where the hearing is settled or continued administratively due to agreement between the parties a preparation fee can still be allowed on cause shown.
For example, if the case settled the day before the hearing was due it may be reasonable to allow a preparation fee but if it was agreed to continue the hearing a week or more in advance then we may ask you to clarify the basis of the preparation that has been undertaken.
This fee covers all work in connection with preparing for any debate, where such debate takes place prior to proof or Proof before Answer.
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 (eight units).
This fee can only be claimed in relation to a debate in law.
This fee covers all work preparing for the taking of evidence or executing specification on open commission or proceeding by way of optional procedure:
This fee covers all work preparing for an appeal to the Sheriff Appeal Court (to include marking appeal or noting marking of appeal).
It is very important not to infer from this fee that an appeal is automatically covered under the original grant of legal aid where the grant of legal aid relates to proceedings of first instance.
Appellate proceedings before the Sheriff Appeal Court are “distinct proceedings” in terms of the regulations and a fresh application is generally required.
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.
The solicitor can apply to extend that certificate to cover such an appeal, rather than making a fresh application.
You are reminded that you can elect to charge detailed fees for proceedings in the sheriff appeal court if you so wish.
Block fees: sheriff court proceedings (defended)
Find out about the separate payment for all work for the preparation and attendance at a Continued Options Hearing or Continued Full Case Management Hearing