Covid-19: Changes to payments to account for counsel and solicitor advocates

This update explains changes to the provisions as to when counsel and solicitor advocates can submit a payment to account during the Covid-19 pandemic under Civil, Criminal and Children’s legal aid. The changes come into force with effect from 15 April 2020.

Civil

In the light of this and the general circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Faculty of Advocates have agreed to temporarily amend the protocol of 1 April 2011, which governs payment to accounts claims.

For the duration of the period that the amendment is effective claims can be submitted by counsel in relation to any case where the proceedings have not concluded, and:

(a) A period of not less than six months has elapsed since the date on which SLAB gave notice in writing of the grant of civil legal aid; or

(b) The proceedings have been sisted or adjourned or have failed to proceed as a result of Covid-19; or

(c) The number of days on which a diet of proof, debate or like hearing is held exceeds twenty days in any period subsequent to that covered by the immediately preceding claim; or

(d) Counsel reasonably anticipates not receiving further instructions in the proceedings.

The full terms are in the 2011 Protocol and Variation (PDF).

Criminal (and children’s)

There are no written protocols for criminal and children’s legal aid but claims can be made prior to the conclusion of proceedings in line with long standing arrangements. A claim can now be made in any of the following circumstances:

  • Where the case is adjourned for a period exceeding three months
  • The trial/proof has lasted more than 20 days (and every 20 days thereafter)
  • Counsel’s employment in the case is at an end (in the event that counsel in later re-employed further claims will not be met)
  • Where the proceedings include any diet which has been adjourned, regardless of duration, as a result of Covid-19.

For more information, please contact: Steven Carrie, Senior Technical Specialist E: carriest@slab.org.uk

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