This guidance is for use by experts. Please direct them to this page so they are aware of our policies to prevent difficulties at the account stage. It can also be used for your own reference to help understand and explain their role.
When a solicitor seeks and obtains prior approval from us for commissioning an expert opinion our assessment of this is based on the work anticipated.
If approved, this results in an expenditure limit being identified which is the maximum amount we will pay. It is not an agreed price or agreement that the expenditure limit will be the amount paid.
After the work is done, our staff must assess the cost of the actual work carried out. Where a cost is incurred for an expert opinion this is known as an outlay.
We are bound by a statutory framework which details various tests to be carried out by staff to assess the extent to which outlays have been actually, necessarily and reasonably incurred.
Without a breakdown and associated evidence to allow the tests to be carried out, staff will not be able to approve payment.
We require the following key information in order to assess all claims:
The invoice must also detail the dates the work was undertaken. This is essential as payment is based on when the appropriate legal aid cover is in place. If the work was carried out at a stage where the solicitor had not got the necessary cover they are responsible for your fees.
Our policies set out various costs which will not be covered:
In some limited circumstances we will not require an invoice to be broken down. These are:
In the same way that a solicitor will not normally be entitled to payment in respect of researching the law, a person employed in their capacity as an expert will not normally be allowed a fee for research from us because:
The time in adding to professional development is not something which can normally be charged to the client or form part of the claim.
However, time spent researching a very unusual or unique aspect in particular case may be allowed in exceptional circumstances. There must be something in the case that raises it above the norm in order to justify research on this ground.
In these instances the reasons for this should be recorded by you explaining why this was necessary having regard to the individual circumstances of the case.
A claim not backed up by this information will result in us querying it further and withholding payment until you provide clarification.
We calculate travel costs based on the method of transport and the time taken.
You must provide receipts for all expenses incurred – if no receipt is produced then no payment will be made.
When travelling, the form of transport that results in the most economical total cost must be used although the time taken to travel should be balanced against the transport cost.
For example, the cheapest method of travelling may not be the best option if the travelling time takes longer and results in a higher total travel-related cost than a quicker option.
We will expect the main costs to relate to your work rather than to travel and may seek further information if there is significant proportion of cost related to travel. You should identify and be able to provide reasons which relate to the specific nature of the work commissioned if multiple journeys have been made.
Payment of cancellation fees will depend on the circumstances of the particular case.
For example, the following factors will be relevant:
Payment will be restricted to a maximum of two days fees based on a normal court day, not exceeding six hours.
If you incurred non-refundable expenses for accommodation, rail or air fares, receipts will need to be produced before payment can be considered.
In instances where a locum has been used, we will pay for either your own or the locum’s fee but we will not pay for both.
We will also need to know whether a locum had been appointed to cover your absence and if this affected you in returning to your practice.
If the locum’s costs are being claimed for we will need sight of the practice’s terms and conditions of temporary employment; or any written contractual arrangement with the locum confirming the agreed rate for their services and the period that this covers.
After a grant, and prior approval needed
This page includes information on arrangements for the employment of counsel under civil legal aid. It includes information on: the tests applied in our assessment of requests for counsel (whether case-related, or linked to your circumstances); timing of requests; limited use of counsel for opinions etc.; and retrospective grants for the employment of counsel.
After a grant, and prior approval needed
This page includes information on the employment of expert witnesses in civil legal aid. The guidance includes information on when prior approval is required; the application procedure (including use of templates); how to distinguish an expert witness and the status of certain common types of witnesses; timing of applications; how we will assess experts’ costs; and cost limit information.