If you have 5 different clients and spent an hour in total with them, 12 minutes for each case, in terms of the regulations it would be appropriate to round this up to quarter of an hour for each file – that is £12.75. This results, after rounding up in a total charge of £63, in excess of the hourly rate due to the process of rounding up.
The actual time spent with each client should be recorded in each account and file.
If the 5 cases in the example above were all to relate to the same client, then the total time chargeable would be 60 minutes (that is, the actual total time rounded up to the next quarter hour, not rounded up for each individual case). In terms of the Act and regulations advice and assistance is defined as oral or written advice on the application of Scots law to any particular circumstances which have arisen in relation to the person seeking the advice. The fact that separate grants exist for each matter is an administrative device that does not lead to separate payments for each of them. This is one meeting for charging purposes.
The total charge would be £51.00 divided by 5 – that is, £10.20 per case.
The same principles as above apply in circumstances where you travel to visit a client and have to give additional advice on a different matter. You should apportion the total time taken between all cases for that client – for example, if the total travel time is 60 minutes (outward and return), and then you have a 44 minute attendance with the client providing advice on 5 different matters, the total time chargeable is 1 hr 44 minutes rounded up to the quarter hour.
The outward travel is chargeable to the original advice; the return travel should be apportioned between all five matters.
There can be instances when you travel to prison, hospital etc only intending to see one client on one subject matter. While you are there, you may find that another client needs advice on another matter for which you grant advice and assistance. In these circumstances, you should charge for travel to the prison etc under the original case, and apportion the return travel equally between all cases using the approach in 5.10.9. If need be, you can apply for an increase in authorised expenditure by telephone for any of the new cases for which you have granted advice and assistance to cover the portion of the return travel costs.
However, should you intend to visit more than one client, you must ensure sufficient authorised expenditure is in place for each case to cover the apportioned travel costs to and from the establishment.
This approach is seen as more appropriate than, for example, using an increase in authorised expenditure already granted in one case to travel to and from the establishment at which advice is then given to other clients. It is not appropriate that other clients should benefit from the increase granted for an individual case. They should meet their own share of the return travel costs.
There are practical consequences if this is not done. For example, cases with property recovered or preserved would be adversely affected by higher apportioned travelling costs than would otherwise be necessary.