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Changed guidance - contact applications and negotiations
Thursday, Oct 06, 2016
In June this year we let you know that we were changing our approach to granting special urgency cover.
The change applied to cases where contact had previously been operating satisfactorily but the parent with care suddenly ends this contact for, on the face of it, no good reason or where parties have only recently separated but no contact is offered despite asking.
In those situations we now think it is appropriate to grant special urgency cover to allow an immediate court action to be raised.
This means that you or your client will not always have time to enter into extensive negotiations about reinstating contact.
To cover those situations only we have changed our guidance (paragraphs 4.35 and 4.38) on the information we need to see in an application for legal aid to bring an action for contact. This means that you will not need to provide detailed evidence of attempts to settle matters without going to court.
Our guidance on needing to see evidence of attempts to settle matters without going to court remains unchanged for all other applications.
Increased fee for mediation under A&A
An issue raised during meetings with the profession as part of our streamlining work was the imbalance between what was given for mediation cover under A&A and civil.
Until now, when you asked for the template increase for contact under a grant of A&A you had the option of choosing a sub template to cover mediation costs, which gave additional funding of £400.
We have changed this so that the additional funding for mediation will now be £600.
This brings the funding allowed into line with that given under the template for mediation costs available under a grant of civil legal aid.
Providing this increased funding under A&A will give you more scope for settling any dispute over contact at an early stage and ideally without the need for litigation.
If you have any queries about the guidance please contact Catriona Whyte, Head of Legal Services - Civil and Children’s, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0131 240 2088.
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