The reforms significantly simplify the summary criminal fixed payment arrangements so that full payment can now be achieved in the overwhelming majority of cases via a single all-encompassing fee.
This will, in many respects, revert to the original streamlined structure of the fixed fee, removing the effects of a number of intervening regulations that have sought at various points to modify the payment in certain circumstances and which has, in turn, added complexity to the process as a result.
The changes mean that a full and enhanced core fee is now payable where a solicitor:
- acts for more than one assisted person instead of 40% in respect of a second accused and 20% in respect of a third and each subsequent accused
- provides relevant ABWOR in respect of more than one complaint instead of 40% in respect of a second accused and 20% in respect of a third and each subsequent accused
- represents an accused person where the duty solicitor appears on their behalf at the outset, instead of a half
- acts in relation to proceedings in respect of breach of bail conditions under section 27(1)(b) of the 1995 Act or paragraph 1(1)(a) or (c) of schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, instead of a half fee.
Other changes include:
- the JP ABWOR core fee is increased in line with the summary criminal legal aid fee, taking it from £170.35 to £347.92. This enhanced core fee will be brought into line with the scope of the fee payable in the sheriff court under schedule 1B to absorb all other fees payable in the case with the exception of the fees payable:
- in respect of the third or subsequent diets of deferred sentence
- representation at a first or second diet of deferred sentence where the court considers a report under section 203 of the 1995 Act and the case is disposed of; and
- work in relation to any bail appeal.
- a simplified fee structure for a trial or proof in mitigation for the second and each subsequent day in the sheriff court
- the same approach is adopted for trials in the JP court, with enhanced fees for the first day beyond 30 minutes and for a second and subsequent day
- payment of a standard fee for third and subsequent deferred sentence diets in respect of each complaint. This removes the complex process of accounting in cases where the hearing relates to more than one complaint.
In order to support this significant package of improvements, a small number of fees, most of which are used very infrequently, will be incorporated into the enhanced core fees including:
- the supplementary fee where that assisted person has been remanded in custody at or subsequent to the first calling at the case and is at any time during that remand under 21 years of age (although this fee will continue to be payable in a court which has been designated as a drug court by the sheriff principal)
- notional trial diets where at an adjourned trial diet no evidence is led
- in the JP court where the solicitor conducts a special reasons proof, hearing on exceptional hardship or back-duty proof.
To accompany the revised payment arrangements changes have been made to our systems which simplify the process for making claims online.