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The Legal Aid and ABWOR (Fees for Time at Court and Travelling) (Scotland) Regulations 2014
Thursday, Nov 06, 2014
This update provides information about changes to how the fees payable to solicitors should be calculated in relation to:
- The provision of legal aid or assistance by way of representation (ABWOR) at court;
- Fees payable to solicitors and solicitors’ clerks for time spent travelling.
You will continue to be paid for the work actually done. The fees for time engaged at court will be calculated on the basis of the total time engaged per day.
This includes in solemn proceedings where:
- fees under paragraph 7 of the Notes on the operation may be appropriate;
- fees are not already covered by an inclusive fee;
- and any statement referred to in that paragraph is taken at court.
This means that where time is spent on a prescribed activity at various stages throughout the day, the individual blocks of time should be totalled up and then rounded up to the nearest unit of time specified, before the prescribed fee rate is applied.
The regulations required to give effect to these provisions have been laid in the Scottish Parliament and come into force on 10 November 2014. The regulations apply only in relation to fees and outlays incurred on or after 10 November 2014.
They were introduced following tripartite discussions between the Scottish Government, Law Society of Scotland (Civil and Criminal Legal Aid Negotiating Teams) and Scottish Legal Aid Board.
A copy of the regulations can be obtained from the following link http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2014/257/contents/made
The Legal Assistance Handbooks will be updated on 10 November 2014 to incorporate the changes.
The regulations will bring a uniformity of approach across all types of legal aid and ABWOR as to how a solicitor must charge for time engaged at court including any necessary travel. It will bring a consistency to the basis of charging, simplify the assessment process for time at court, particularly where there are gaps in time, reduce the scope for disputes and will also assist with the development of SLAB’s online accounts system.
In circumstances where there are multiple work activities the aggregated time will always be calculated and assessed on the following basis:
- Time engaged conducting a hearing will be calculated first;
- Non advocacy time will then be considered for any time spent in addition to the time conducting the hearing;
- Travel time will be payable for the balance.
This approach reflects the terms of the regulations which make clear that the non advocacy time is payable where the “time is additional to the time charged for under paragraph 1”.
Paragraph 1 is the fee/time spent by a solicitor conducting a hearing. Two working examples are provided below for your assistance.
Example 1: Schedule 5 of the 1989 Civil Fees Regulations
The total time engaged is 125 minutes (2 hours 05 minutes) made up of 25 minutes conducting a hearing, 40 minutes meeting and waiting and 60 minutes travel.
The total time engaged will be rounded up to 135 minutes (2 hours 15 minutes) and calculated on the following basis:
- Conducting the hearing 30 minutes (25 minutes rounded up 5 minutes to next quarter hour);
- Meeting and waiting 45 minutes (40 minutes rounded up 5 minutes to next quarter hour);
- Travel 60 minutes;
- A total time is payable of 135 minutes (2 hours 15 minutes).
Example 2: Schedule 1 (solemn procedure) of the 1989 Criminal Fees Regulations
*only in circumstances where a meeting charge is allowed separately to the inclusive fees payable under Schedule 1, Part 2 of the Table of Fees
The total time engaged is 290 minutes (4 hours 50 minutes) made up of 160 minutes (2 hours 40 minutes) conducting a hearing, 80 minutes (1 hour 20 minutes) meeting and waiting time and 50 minutes spent in travel.
The total time engaged will be rounded up to 300 minutes (5 hours) and calculated on the following basis:
- Conducting the hearing 165 minutes (160 minutes rounded up 5 minutes to next quarter hour);
- Meeting and waiting 75 minutes (80 minutes less the 5 minutes rounded up above) this reflects the actual time additional to the total time for conducting the hearing;
- Travel 50 minutes rounded up to 60 minutes.
- A total time is payable of 300 minutes (5 hours).
For more information
Please contact: Steven Carrie, Senior accounts specialist 0131 240 2054 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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