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The Legal Aid for Crown Court Proceedings (Costs) (Amendment No. 2) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2016

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Amendments to the Legal Aid for Crown Court Proceedings (Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2005

This section has no associated Explanatory Memorandum

6.  After rule 11, insert –

Exceptional Preparation – Application for Certificate of Exceptionality

11A.(1) Where a representative considers that a case (or part of a case which is the subject-matter of the application) –

(a)involves a point of law or factual issue that is very unusual or novel;

(b)additional preparation work is reasonably required on the part of the representative in order to prepare the assisted person’s defence; and

(c)that work is substantially in excess of the amount normally required for cases of the same type,

the representative may apply to the Department for a Certificate of Exceptionality in accordance with the provisions of this rule.

(2) The application may be submitted by a representative on his own behalf or on behalf of himself and another representative of the assisted person.

(3) The application shall be submitted by the representative at the earliest opportunity after the assisted person has been returned for trial and, subject to paragraph (4), not later than the commencement of the trial.

(4) If satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the representative to submit the application earlier, the Department may accept such application after the commencement of the trial.

(5) The application shall be submitted to the Department in such form and manner as it may direct, specifying –

(a)the basis upon which the application is made;

(b)the nature of the work which is the subject-matter of the application;

(c)the number of additional hours sought for each piece of work which is the subject-matter of the application; and

(d)the representative or other fee-earner who will be responsible for each piece of the work.

(6) A representative applying for additional funding under this rule shall supply such further information and documents (including a Costed Case Plan) as may be required by the Department in support of the application.

(7) In this rule a “Costed Case Plan” means a case plan in such form as the Department may direct setting out the additional preparation work which the representative is proposing to undertake, together with the estimated hours and cost of same in accordance with the prescribed hourly rates of payment applicable to that category of representative or other fee-earner.

Exceptional Preparation – Determination of application

11B.(1) The Department may grant an application for a Certificate of Exceptionality only if it is satisfied that each of the criteria prescribed in rule 11A(1) is met.

(2) Subject to paragraph (1), the Department shall grant a Certificate of Exceptionality to each representative it deems satisfies the criteria.

(3) If it is not satisfied that the criteria prescribed in rule 11A(1) are met, the Department shall refuse the application or, if it considers it appropriate to do so, it may defer its decision on the application until such time as the representative supplies further information to satisfy the criteria.

(4) The Department shall communicate its decision made under this rule, together with its reasons for refusing the application or deferring its decision, as applicable, in writing to the representative (or each representative, as applicable).

Exceptional Preparation – Grant of application

11C.(1) This rule applies where the Department grants a Certificate of Exceptionality under rule 11B.

(2) The Department shall authorise additional hours by the representative or other fee-earner, as applicable, at the rate specified in the relevant table following rule 11E(7), up to a specified maximum to cover such additional preparation work as it will approve under the Certificate.

(3) Where the Department has authorised additional preparation work under paragraph (2), the representative may carry out such additional work up to the maximum number of hours specified under the Certificate.

(4) If further hours of preparation work are required, in excess of those authorised under paragraph (2), the representative shall apply in advance to the Department for an extension under the Certificate.

(5) Without prejudice to paragraphs (2) to (4), the Department shall require the representative (or each representative, as applicable) –

(a)to record contemporaneously the number of hours the representative or other fee-earner spends in preparation work on the case, together with a description of the nature of the work performed on each occasion and a note of the fee-earner performing that work, as applicable;

(b)to maintain such records in a permanently accessible format; and

(c)to provide periodic reports and projections as to the future costs of the case to the Department at such times and in such a form as the Department shall direct.

(6) The periodic reports provided to the Department under paragraph (5)(c) shall, if so directed by the Department, include copies of the records maintained by the representative under paragraph (5)(b).

(7) If a representative fails to comply with paragraph (5) without good reason, the Department shall revoke the Certificate granted to that representative, provided that the Certificate shall not be revoked unless the representative has been permitted a reasonable opportunity to show cause in writing why the Certificate should not be revoked.

(8) Where a Certificate of Exceptionality granted to a representative has been revoked under paragraph (7), that representative’s fees shall be determined under rule 8 or 11, as appropriate, as if the Certificate had never been granted.

Exceptional Preparation – Appeal to the taxing master

11D.(1) A representative may appeal to the taxing master against a decision made by the Department under rule 11B or 11C and, subject to rule 19, such an appeal shall be instituted within 21 days of receiving notification of the decision by giving notice in writing to the taxing master.

(2) The provisions of rule 14(3) to (13) shall apply with the necessary modifications to an appeal brought under paragraph (1).

(3) The decision of the taxing master on an appeal under paragraph (2) shall be final.

Exceptional Preparation – Determination of representatives’ fees

11E.(1) This rule applies to the determination of fees where the fees are claimed by a representative to whom a Certificate of Exceptionality has been granted under rule 11B, and that certificate has not been revoked under rule 11C.

(2) Fees payable under this rule shall be assessed and determined by the Department in accordance with this rule and having regard to such directions and guidance as may be issued by the Department.

(3) When determining the fees payable to a representative under paragraph (2), the Department shall –

(a)have regard to any standard fees payable to the representative under rule 8 or rule 11, as appropriate;

(b)assess the fees claimed for any additional preparation work based only on the hours recorded in the contemporaneous records maintained by the representative; and

(c)where it decides that an additional payment is required under Article 37 of the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981(1), allow fees for such additional preparation work at rates no higher than those set out for the appropriate representative (or other fee-earner, as applicable) in the relevant table following paragraph (7).

(4) If the Department authorised additional preparation work under rule 11C(1) to (4) –

(a)the representative shall account to the Department for the manner in which any authorised hours were expended; and

(b)the work allowed this rule shall not exceed the total number of hours so authorised.

(5) The Department shall not allow payment for any additional hours claimed under the Certificate of Exceptionality unless satisfied by the representative that the additional preparation work was reasonably undertaken and properly done.

(6) The Department may require the representative to provide any further information which it requires for the purpose of the determination under this rule.

(7) Any fees allowed under this rule shall be paid to the representative together with the standard fees allowed under Schedule 1.

TABLES OF PRESCRIBED HOURLY RATES FOR EXCEPTIONAL PREPARATION WORK

SOLICITOR
Senior SolicitorSolicitorAn apprentice or fee earner of equivalent experience
Hourly rate£130£90£50
COUNSEL
Queen’s CounselLeading Junior CounselLed Junior CounselSole Junior Counsel
Hourly rate£130£105£80£90
SOLICITOR – conducting trial or hearing under rule 4A
Solicitor with at least three years’ standingSolicitor with less than three years’ standing
Hourly rate£90£45

(8) For the purposes of this rule “senior solicitor” means a solicitor who has not less than eight years’ post qualification experience in criminal defence work.

(9) The provisions of rules 4, 7, 8(1), 10, 11(1) and 12 to 15 shall apply with the necessary modifications to the fees payable under this rule..

(1)

S.I. 1981/228 (N.I. 8). Article 37 of the 1981 Order was amended by Article 49(1) of, together with paragraph 6(3) of Schedule 4 to, the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 – S.I. 2003/435 (N.I. 10)

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