• April 20, 2024
 Update to Legal Aid Scheme for family law cases: When does a case become ‘high cost?’

Update to Legal Aid Scheme for family law cases: When does a case become ‘high cost?’

The Legal Aid Agency updated the Care Case Fee Scheme (CCFS) last week, with new guidelines for counsel  with detailed case plans for when a legal-aid funded family becomes high cost.

A case becomes high cost when the costs are likely to exceed £25,000.

There are 2 teams managing high cost family cases:

  • High Cost Family (HCF) team – deals with all single and KC/2 counsel/advocate cases in private and public law family matters (South Tyneside based)
  • Exceptional and Complex Case Team (ECCT) family section – deals with all prior authority requests for KC/2 counsel cases in private and public law family matters and all Court of Protection cases.
  • ECCT provides all technical oversight and support to HCF (London based)

All family cases requiring KC or 2 Counsel will require prior authority. These should be submitted as an amendment via CCMS (or APP8 if the case is not being run on CCMS). All requests for prior authority must address sections 1.2 and 1.3 of the Narrative and Guidance: Legal Aid.

Methods of costing high cost family cases

  • Care Case Fee Schemes (CCFS):Some private law and other child cases which follow a similar fact-finding route and have main hearings over 10 days may qualify for the CCFS scheme (on request and agreed by the Legal Aid Agency)
  • Detailed (fully costed) case plans used in all other family cases plus care cases that the Legal Aid Agency deem to be exceptional

To submit an Interim CCFS Form to obtain costs beyond £32,500, submit the CCFS Form without any supporting documentation.

The CCFS Form needs to be fully completed to avoid unnecessary queries. At the conclusion of the case providers should submit their Final CCFS Form accompanied by a checklist of required information, which will help the Legal Aid Agency reach agreement on final costs. It is important that all documentation requested is provided to avoid delay and re-submission.

Counsel Acceptance Forms for all external advocates acting outside of FAS should also be uploaded at this final submission stage to allow counsel to present their bills.

Fees payable to counsel in family cases under CCFS (both single counsel and two counsel) and under a detailed case plan are set out in Payments to counsel on the government website. 

Where counsel’s fees are calculated on an equivalent basis as FGF and have been requested to supply counsel fees costed using the Family Graduated Fee Scheme as a guide counsel will need to upload a Claim 5.

This will be seen as a document to support the case plan and it is not an actual bill on CCMS.

To assist counsel in completing the Claim 5 Legal Aid have developed a FGF fees calculator, which will help in calculating costs that would be equivalent to those that would have been payable under the FGF Scheme.

Eve Tawfick, Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *