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Many legal aid cases conducted by specialist solicitors can be complex and high value. In accordance with LAA guidance, a case becomes high cost when they are likely to exceed £25,000. With legal aid certificates now having a default costs limitation of £25,000.00, it is important for solicitors to carefully monitor their level of costs.

For example, if the level of costs is approaching £12,500 and the case is exceptional in nature, then a solicitor should carefully consider applying to the Legal Aid Agency to have the case registered as high costs.

Below we list the top 5 things that Legal Aid Solicitors should be aware of concerning high costs cases:

1. The case cannot be registered as high costs after a matter has concluded. If an application is made after the case has concluded, it will be rejected by the LAA, and the solicitor will be stuck with the default costs limitation of £25,000.00.

2. For KC/2 Counsel cases, always send a fee earner (of any grade) to the hearings with the barristers as this will result in an additional £207.00 per event.

3. After a case has been registered as high costs, an interim case plan can be prepared and submitted to the LAA if the total level of costs are likely to exceed £32,500/£60,000 (different level depending on the type of case plan). Adopting this approach will allow counsel fees to be allocated and the solicitor can make an interim profit costs claim;

4. There are two types of case plans; 1) Care Case Fee Schemes (CCFS) and Traditional fully detailed case plans. It is important to sit down and work out which model is the most profitable and should be adopted moving forward; and

5. The scope and terms of the legal aid certificate should be regularly checked. For example, in KC/2 counsel matters, the instruction of a KC is often limited up to and including a Finding of Fact hearing. Therefore, if the KC is to be instructed beyond this point, the scope and terms of the legal aid certificate will need to allow for this.

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If you would like to discuss your High Costs requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us on: Tel: 0191 300 1579

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Brough Partners

Suite 34
7-15 Pink Lane
Newcastle upon Tyne

T: 0191 300 1579