Sanction for unusual expenditure or work likely to involve unusually large expenditure

Regulation 21 provides that you need our prior approval for work of an unusual nature or likely to involve unusually large expenditure.  No specific criteria for approval are laid down in the regulations and the matter is at our discretion.

All work done, and any item of expense incurred in a legal aid case, is subject to our scrutiny and possible abatement, and may also be subject to taxation by the auditor.  To this extent, the requirement for prior approval for unusual work or unusually large expenditure can work as a safeguard for you.  It is much better for you to know in advance whether or not we will pay for an item of expenditure before it is incurred.

Applying for sanction

You must apply for sanction online and provide all the information requested.  In a case of exceptional urgency, you may apply by telephone then send us the online application if we grant or part grant your application over the telephone.

Work likely to involve unusually large expenditure

Where the cost of work you seek to carry out is less than £2,000, excluding VAT you do not need our sanction.  However, you only have authority to do the work if a final cost, not an estimated cost at the outset, is £2,000 or less.

In addition, the whole charge, and not just that exceeding £2,000, will be abated if it exceeds this limit.

This limit of £2,000 does not apply to work of an unusual nature where you must always seek sanction before the work is carried out.

Examples of some common situations where unusually large expenditure is likely to be incurred:

  • Arranging for a witness to travel from some distant country to give evidence in Scotland.
  • Obtaining a transcript of evidence.
  • Shorthand writer’s fees.

These examples are not by any means exhaustive.  If you are in any doubt about this you should contact us to discuss the work proposed.

Work of an unusual nature

You must always seek sanction for work of an unusual nature before it is carried out, irrespective of the cost of the unusual work.

Examples of unusual work which would require sanction include:

  • Taking evidence on commission.
  • Drafting a Petition for specification of documents and attendance at any hearing fixed.
  • Drafting a Devolution Minute and attendance at any hearing fixed to consider it terms.
  • Use of live television link where the child and/or adult vulnerable witnesses are located in a remote site not operated by the Scottish Courts Service.
  • Arranging for a witness from a distant country to give evidence in a Scottish court by video-link from their own country’s location.
  • Qualified or unqualified staff travelling abroad to obtain statements.
  • Qualified or unqualified staff travelling to see a client to advise and take instructions unless that client is in prison, secure accommodation or hospital.
  • Expenses of clients travelling to see you.
  • Keeping a watching brief in some other proceedings.
  • Qualified or unqualified staff, counsel and/or experts travelling to view a Joint Investigative Interview DVD that is being relied upon by the Reporter.
  • Conduct of a Site Visit/Locus inspection.

These examples are not exhaustive.  If you are in any doubt about this you should before instructing or carrying out any such work contact us to discuss the work concerned.

Examples of work which we do not consider unusual and do not require sanction include:

  • Administration charges from an agency providing you with copies of records where you have permission to obtain them.
  • Unqualified staff taking witness statements where there are likely to be additional expenses such as an overnight stay that would avoid further travelling at a later date.
  • Expenses of your client’s witnesses appearing in the proceedings including travelling expenses such as air fares.
  • Expenses involved in you travelling to see your client who cannot travel to see you because they are in prison, hospital or secure accommodation.

These examples are not exhaustive.  If you are in any doubt about this you should, before instructing or carrying out any such work, contact us to discuss the work proposed.

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