News in brief – 04.02.2021

Former government minister to take reins at CLSB

David Heath CBE, the former Liberal Democrat MP who was a minister and deputy leader of the House of Commons during the coalition government, has been named the next chair of the Costs Lawyer Standards Board.

Mr Heath recently stepped down from the board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which he was on for six years, latterly as senior independent director, and has also held non-executive roles with the Consumer Council for Water and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

A former optician, he was in Parliament for 18 years before standing down in 2015. In opposition, he worked principally in the fields of home affairs and criminal justice, shadowing the Lord Chancellor and serving on the justice select committee for two years.

He will take over in March 2021, when Steve Winfield retires at the end of a seven-year term.


Supreme Court refuses to hear ‘legal aid to CFA’ switch case

The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal XDE v North Middlesex University Hospital Trust [2020] EWCA Civ 543, in which the Court of Appeal last April upheld Master Rowley’s decision that claimant solicitors had acted unreasonably in switching a clinical negligence client from legal aid to a CFA-lite.

The Supreme Court said “the application does not raise an arguable point of law which ought to be considered at this time bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal”.


LAA paid over 2,000 hardship claims since Covid struck

Litigators and advocates made 2,343 hardship claims to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) between 1 May 2020 to 8 January 2021, according to figures released in Parliament last month. The agency made payment in respect of over 99% of them.

Responding to a written question, minister Chris Philp said the government had “substantially lowered the thresholds at which a hardship claim can be submitted” because of Covid-19.

He also revealed that, across the LAA’s civil funding schemes, there were 277,829 live cases unbilled as of 30 September 2020, the latest period for which figures were available. The LAA was unable to provide volumes on unbilled criminal legal aid work because the systems do not have a ‘final bill indicator’ that would enable automated searches.


Costs firm raises funds for LawCare

Staff at Cambridgeshire costs firm R Costings raised nearly £600 for legal healthcare charity LawCare by walking, running and cycling a total of 371.5 miles. “Thank you and well done to all of you who braved the chilly weather to take on this challenge for us,” the firm said.

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Costs News
Published date
03 Feb 2021

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