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Legal aid: change of process in family high cost cases from 3 June 2019

The high cost family case planning process has been changed. The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) says that the changes, which will come into operation from 3 June 2019, will improve the service offered providers and counsel.

What has changed?
From 3 June 2019, when a provider notifies the LAA that a care case will be high cost, they will upload signed contract documentation to the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) and apply immediately for a new cost limit of £32,500 via a cost amendment.

An interim CCFS plan will only be required if estimated costs exceed £32,500 at any point before the case concludes.

A final CCFS form must be submitted with the supporting Final Assessment Streamlining Tool (FAST) checklist documentation when the case concludes. This change will apply to both single counsel, QC and two counsel cases.

Why is the LAA doing this?
The new CCFS notification process will allow providers and counsel to seek increased payments on account at an earlier stage against the £32,500 limit, aiding cash flow. It will also reduce the number of interim CCFS form submissions and the number of interactions via CCMS between providers and the LAA.

Work is presently being undertaken to set a higher initial cost limit for QC and two counsel high cost cases. This should be published before the end of June.

For full details of the new process, high cost contract documents, case plans and supporting online training modules, click here.