Use of interim fees for Covid-19 reasons

We have published the findings from a small piece of research on the use of the Covid-19 related interim fee arrangements.

Our most recent figures show that approximately 30% of active solemn criminal legal aid firms and 40% of active civil legal aid firms have made interim fee claims.

The purpose of the research was to explore the take up of interim fees, and to identify whether there is more we can do to assist solicitors to access work in progress payments now.

We interviewed 21 people in the course of this research (mostly solicitors but also administrative staff involved in decision making on submitting accounts).

Our research found that general awareness of the interim fee arrangements is very high, and the majority of respondents were positive about them, regardless of whether they had used them themselves. The responses also highlighted that solicitors use a variety of sources to keep updated with legal aid news.

For almost all respondents the decision to limit use of the expanded interim fee arrangements was based on factors such as management of cash flow and time.  A number of the solemn legal aid solicitors had made the decision to use summary legal aid interim fee provisions in preference to the solemn ones.

Some respondents mentioned other sources of financial support, from central or local government, as a factor in deciding to limit their use of the interim fee provisions.

Based on the research findings, we will continue to assist solicitors who choose to use interim fees (and other Covid-19 provisions) at this time through information provision as and when firms need it. This might include:

Regularly verifying that our topic related guidance is comprehensive and up to date
Promoting our information support, such as email help and training
Developing direct communication channels to include admin support staff, in addition to solicitors.

We recognise firms’ uncertainty about understanding the demand for services and how important that is to planning for the future; we publish applications data in order to make this indicator of demand available to all.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to share their views and experiences with SLAB’s research team.

You can download the report from our Research publications page on the website, or the direct PDF file link below.

For more information on this research, please contact our research team on research@slab.org.uk.

 

Legal aid and stakeholder research

File Type Size
Research Briefing use of interim fees 20-21 304 KB | 3 June 2021 PDF 304 KB
2021 Survey of private practice legal aid clients 498 KB | 6 April 2022 PDF 498 KB
2021 Survey of PDSO clients 576 KB | 6 April 2022 PDF 576 KB

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