Half core fee where “duty solicitor” is acting in the capacity of “solicitor of choice”

Tuesday, Aug 06, 2013

There is still some confusion over the fee which can be claimed under summary criminal legal aid, if you were the duty solicitor and the case did not proceed to trial.

The Criminal Legal Aid (Fixed Payments) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2011 (SSI 2011/162) came into force on 22 March 2011. Regulation 5 of the Criminal Legal Aid (Fixed Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 1999, was amended as follows:

(5B) The amount payable under (as the case may be) paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 or paragraph 1 of Schedule 1A is half the amount that would otherwise be payable if the assisted person —

(a) was represented by a solicitor arranged by the Board to provide criminal legal aid pursuant to regulation 7(1) of the Criminal Legal Assistance (Duty Solicitors) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 at the first diet at which the assisted person was called upon to plead;
(b) tendered a plea of not guilty at that diet; and
(c) before the commencement of the trial tendered a plea of guilty.

You will be aware from a communication sent by the Law Society Criminal Legal Aid Negotiating Team in March 2013, that where the above circumstances arise and you are the appointed duty solicitor, but also have a pre-existing relationship with a client, you can claim the full core fee on condition that no claim is made for the same client under the duty scheme. In order that the full core fee can be claimed it is essential when completing the online criminal application that you enter “No” to the question “not guilty plea was entered by the duty solicitor”. If you have any existing applications and have ticked “Yes” to this question, in error, you should send an online notification to the criminal applications department requesting that the application be amended, and you should also provide details of the pre existing solicitor and client relationship, and confirm that no claim will be made under the duty scheme. This will allow the full core fee to be claimed.

Further changes will be made to our online accounts system to simplify the submission of accounts and these will be taken forward as part of the accounts rewrite project. This project will make a number of significant enhancements to the current Legal Aid Online accounts system as well as providing the platform for the submission of other account types including solemn legal aid by the end of March 2014.

Further information

If you would like further information please contact: Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance, 0131 240 2085, thomaski@slab.org.uk

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