A row between the government and the Law Society over legal aid fees could return to court. The lord chancellor has not ruled out appealing a devastating judgment handed down by the High Court earlier this month over fees to litigators, it has emerged.
Practitioners can now claim up to 10,000 pages of prosecution evidence (PPE) under the Legal Aid Agency's Crown court fee scheme, known as the litigators' graduated fee scheme, after the High Court quashed regulations which cut payments for document-heavy cases.
However, publishing its updated position on the scheme yesterday, the agency said 'providers should be aware that the question whether to appeal the order of the divisional court is still under consideration by the lord chancellor'.
The agency says new claims should be submitted in the usual way. Those who submitted a claim processed with a representation order dated on or after 1 December 2017, which is affected by the High Court ruling, should apply for the claim to be redetermined.
Richard Miller, the Society's head of justice, welcomed the agency's confirmation that it will accept claims up to 10,000 PPE. 'We are pleased the LAA has also clarified that practitioners who have made relevant claims under the 2017 regulations can apply for redetermination,' he added.
Under the ministry's controversial reforms, the number of claimable pages of prosecution evidence was capped at 6,000 rather than 10,000. However, the High Court, in The Law Society v The Lord Chancellor, deemed the 2017 regulations unlawful because the key analysis relied on in making the decision was not disclosed to consultees, rendering the consultation process unfair. Lord Justice Leggatt and Mrs Justice Carr DBE said the new regulations used methods that were statistically flawed, making it irrational to rely on the analysis.