Legal aid solicitor data on impact of Covid-19 – March to December 2020

The following data provides information on solicitor applications and payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It compares the period from the start of March to early December 2020 with the equivalent period in 2019.

Our earlier report covers the applications and payments for the period from March to the end of August 2020.

Legal aid fees paid to solicitors March to early December 2020

Comparing payments for the 41 week period from the start of March 2020 with the equivalent period in 2019 there has been a £12.7 million difference i.e. a 20% drop in fees paid.

This has increased substantially from the £6.5 million gap we reported previously.

It should be noted this does not take account of any financial assistance firms have received from government schemes such as the furlough scheme or the Business Support Scheme.

 

Legal aid fees paid to solicitors per week March to early December 2020

We introduced a new approach to interim payments which allowed firms to submit their invoices for more work sooner.

As firms took advantage of this it resulted in a higher level of payments in April than in 2019.  From May onwards the level of payments decreased as less work was being invoiced.

We are now seeing an increase in payments again back towards the level of last year.

 

Civil A&A/ABWOR grants March to early December 2020

The total number of grants of civil A&A and ABWOR for the 41 weeks from the start of March 2020 to 13 December 2020 is down by 25% on the equivalent period in 2019.

 

Civil A&A/ABWOR grants per week March to early December 2020

From Easter we saw a steady increase to the middle of August.  Since then cases have been relatively stable at around 1000 per week which is approximately 80% of 2019 levels.

 

Civil legal aid applications March to early December 2020

The total number of applications for full civil legal aid for the 41 weeks from the start of March 2020 to early December 2020 is down by 24% on the equivalent period in 2019.

 

Civil legal aid applications per week March to early December 2020

Following the initial decrease at the start of lockdown the level of applications remained at a lower level to the start of June.  We then saw a steady increase to September.

Since then application levels have been comparable with 2019.

 

Solemn legal aid applications March to early December 2020

The total number of applications for solemn legal aid for the 41 weeks from the start of March 2020 to early December 2020 is up by 11% on the equivalent period in 2019.

This has increased from the 4% increase we reported in September.

 

Solemn legal aid applications per week March to early December 2020

We saw a steep decline in solemn applications in March. The levels started to increase from the start of April and they have been above the levels of last year since the middle of May.

 

Summary complaint legal assistance applications March to early December 2020

The total number of applications for legal assistance for summary complaints (either legal aid or ABWOR) for the 41 weeks from the start of March 2020 to early December 2020 is down by 14% on the equivalent period in 2019.

This represents a sizeable closing of the gap from the 31% drop we reported in September.

 

Summary complaint legal assistance applications per week March to early December 2020

We saw a steep decline in summary complaint applications in March. The levels increased strongly since May and in the autumn they were above 2019 levels.

Since then they have steadied around the average for last year.

 

Children’s Sheriff Court applications March to early December 2020

The total number of applications for legal aid for children’s Sheriff Court cases for the 41 weeks from the start of March 2020 to early December 2020 is down by 31% on the equivalent period in 2019.

 

Children’s Sheriff Court applications per week March to early December 2020

As the numbers of children’s cases tend to be much lower than other areas the weekly picture is more varying.

We again saw a drop into April and then a variable increase since then. Current levels are slightly below the 2019 average.

 

For more information

Please contact Matt Taylor, Analytics Manager: taylorma@slab.org.uk

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