Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 1 provides for payment of the “core fixed payment”.  These fixed payments (in brackets where legal aid granted or ABWOR provided on or after 26 April 2019) are:

  • £295 (£303.85) for the JP court
  • £485 (£499.55) for the sheriff court
  • £535 (£551.05) for a Schedule 2 “rural court”.

In the JP court, the core fixed payment is chargeable in all cases where criminal legal aid is granted. There is no provision for a case disposal fee.

In the sheriff court, the core fixed payment is only payable where the case proceeds to trial beyond 30 minutes.  Put another way, the case has to generate the additional “first day” fee prescribed in the Schedule before the core fixed payment is chargeable. The appropriate fee where the trial does not exceed 30 minutes is the case disposal fee under Schedule 1A, below.

You should refer to the appropriate Table of Fees (by reference to when legal aid was granted) for the level of half fees and fees for “add-ons).

What is covered by the core fixed payment?

This fixed payment covers all work up to and including

  • any diet at which a plea of guilty is made and accepted or plea in mitigation is made
  • the first 30 minutes of conducting a proof in mitigation or a proof of a victim statement, other than work done in connection with a grant of legal aid under section 23(1)(b) of the 1986 Act
  • the first 30 minutes of conducting any trial
  • a first or second diet of deferred sentence
  • advising, giving an opinion and taking final instructions on the prospects of an appeal against conviction, sentence, other disposal or acquittal; and
  • any subsequent or additional work other than that specified in paragraphs 2 to 13 of Schedule 1

This payment represents the total fee payable, where fixed payments apply, for all work that you undertake in connection with a summary criminal legal aid case from beginning to end, except work for which a further fixed payment is prescribed, for example a bail appeal, an extended trial or proof in mitigation, a third or subsequent deferred sentence. These further fixed payments, set out in Schedule 1, are available in the circumstances of each individual case.

If a piece of work is not covered by an “add-on” then it is included in the fixed payment. There is no work for which there is no payment.

It follows from the terms of Schedule 1, paragraph 1 of the Tables of Fees that work can be undertaken later on in the proceedings, even after the first 30 minutes of a trial, which reverts to work chargeable under the core fixed payment.  An example of such work might be warrant proceedings where the client had previously failed to appear and for which no other fixed payment is prescribed.

Sections 22ZA (1)(b), 22ZB or 27(1)(b) proceedings (breach of bail) – half fee

A half-core fixed payment, subject to the same provisions set out in the preceding paragraph, is available at Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 2 in connection with proceedings arising from sections 22ZA(1)(b), 22ZB and27(1)(b) of the 1995 Act.

Note: No enhanced fee in the form of a rural court or under-21 supplement payment (see paragraphs 3.8 and 3.9 below) is available in addition to this fee.

Section 23(1)(b) of the 1986 Act

Work done under a court-grant of criminal legal aid under section 23(1)(b) of the Act is chargeable under Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 3 which prescribes a separate fixed payment for the JP court and for the sheriff court.  The core fixed payment is not chargeable in these circumstances.

The first part of paragraph 3 states that the fee is payable for “All work done…” in connection with the grant.  On the other hand, the second part is selective in what is to be included clearly indicating that it is not exhaustive of all work which might be carried out in the case.

Our approach, given the apparent contradiction, is that you are entitled to be paid the prescribed fee for all work done under a section 23(1)(b) certificate including appearance at the first diet.  In addition, all attendances at any diet of deferred sentence or in connection with a proof in mitigation or a proof of a victim statement, beyond the first 30 minutes, will attract the fees set out in the Schedule for these hearings.

Again, this fee includes all other work which does not fall within the scope of the further fixed payments prescribed in Schedule 1.

Note: No enhancements, as set out in paragraphs 3.8 and 3.9 below, are payable in addition to the fixed payment allowable in a section 23(1)(b) case.

Rural courts

There are a number of courts (listed at Schedule 2) which, due to a number of factors including their geographical location and level of business, attract an enhanced core fixed payment.

 

These courts are:

 

Campbeltown

Dunoon

Kirkwall

Lerwick

Lochmaddy

 

Oban

Portree

Rothesay

Stornoway

Fort William

Wick

Under-21 supplement

The core fixed payment payable under Schedule 1 may be enhanced if the assisted person has been remanded in custody at or subsequent to the first calling of the case and is under 21 years old at any time during that remand.

Remember

  • The assisted person must have been remanded in custody at the conclusion of the pleading diet. The enhanced payment is not available where the assisted person simply appeared from custody at the pleading diet.
  • The enhancement is available if the assisted person is remanded in custody at any time during the proceedings.
  • The assisted person does not have to have been remanded in custody in connection with these proceedings, the original purpose of the enhanced payment being to reflect the cost of visiting an under 21 year old who is remanded, for whatever reason, because a young offenders institution may be relatively inaccessible from the main cities.

This enhanced payment is only payable in addition to the core fixed payment.

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