Legal Aid Agency
When a case 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.
- Please refer to the Guidance on authorities and legal aid for cases in courts outside England and Wales.
- Youll find general guidance on high cost family cases in the .
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
Care Case Fee Schemes
Overview of CCFS
The CCFS model simplifies case planning. Costs are determined by reference to events (as defined in the information packs), which have a set value. There are two variations depending on whether the case is being run with single counsel/ solicitor advocate or Two/ Leading Counsel.
Single Counsel CCFS cases
Upon notifying the LAA that a case is high cost and you confirm the case will be costed using CCFS you will be asked to upload onto CCMS signed High Cost Contract and Counsel Acceptance Forms (where external advocate/s are to seek their fees outside of the Family Advocacy Scheme). At the same time, you should submit a cost amendment for 32,500. This will allow you to immediately access cash flow. You must ensure that if counsel is used they are assigned to the case and allocated appropriate funds.
Theexplains the details of the CCFS. The completed example case plan below will help you fill in the template. We have also created a flow and text based flow chart summarising the planning process. It covers the route used in CCMS for registration as a High Cost Case, the planning process, contract upload, and cost amendments - all the way through to submission of final bills for payment.
We also have training materials available:
- A full step-by-step interactive training module has been created demonstrating the process on CCMS. Please click here.
- CCMS training material, which can be found here.
If you need to submit an Interim CCFS Form to obtain costs beyond 32,500, submit the CCFS Form without any supporting documentation. Make sure the CCFS Form is 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 us 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.
KC/2 Counsel CCFS cases
Upon grant of Prior Authority for KC/2 Counsel you will be asked to upload onto CCMS signed High Cost Contract and Counsel Acceptance Forms (where external advocate/s are to seek their fees outside of the Family Advocacy Scheme) if you accept the case will be costed using CCFS. At the same time, you should submit a cost amendment for 60,000, where the authority covers a fact finding hearing or composite final hearing. Make sure that if counsel is used they are assigned to the case and allocated appropriate funds.
Theexplains the details of the KC/2 Counsel CCFS scheme. The completed example below will help you complete the CCFS Form (2 Counsel).