Members are reminded that the closing date for nominations for an upcoming vacancy on the ACL Council is 4pm tomorrow, Friday 28 September. This is your chance to help steer the direction of the Association. Contact email@example.com with any queries.
Annual Conference on the horizon
It is now two months until the ACL Annual Costs Conference, which will take place on Friday 23 November in central London. The format has changed this year and it will be a one-day event, finishing with newly qualified Costs Lawyers collecting their certificates and a drinks reception for delegates. It will provide six hours of CPD.
Confirmed speakers and panellists so far are: Nicholas Bacon QC, District Judge Ian Besford, Senior Costs Judge Andrew Gordon-Saker, Andrew Hogan, Master Jennifer James, PJ Kirby QC, District Judge Lumb, Master Victoria McCloud, Andrew Post QC, Professor Dominic Regan, Master Jason Rowley, District Judge Theresa Searl and Richard Wilcock.
The cost is £200 for members, £250 for non-members and £100 for those newly qualified Costs Lawyers. All prices are plus VAT.
Click here to book.
Criminal barristers hit out at LAA
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) makes “so many basic errors” in assessing barristers’ bills, the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association has complained.
Writing in his weekly update to members, Chris Henley QC said: “The culture within the LAA continues to cause us all serious problems, which wastes huge amounts of our time, and surely theirs, and impacts on our cash flows and personal health…
“Far too often, the LAA fails to apply the regulations properly or to follow their own guidance. One clerk tells me that his chambers makes successful challenges to 60% of their bills. I don’t know whether the explanation is poor training or an institutional mind-set. Many practitioners, unsurprisingly, believe the latter.
“The scale of the problem is completely unacceptable. Those at the top of the LAA need to show more determined leadership to address the failings.”
One example he cited was refreshers not being paid when they should be. “The position is not complicated,” Mr Henley wrote. “Once a trial has started, if the case is listed part heard and counsel attends, a refresher is payable. This applies if a juror or even if the judge is sick, or a witness is unavailable and the court has to adjourn after a few minutes’ discussion. The regulations and the guidance could not be more clear on this. Costs masters agree. TNPs [trial not proceed] are for cases where the trial does not commence in the first place.”
Mr Henley recounted a recent murder trial where, after six days, the judge acceded to a prosecution request to discharge the jury and order a fresh trial, because overnight a further suspect had been arrested and charged. The new defendant will be joined and the new trial will take place in March. The LAA’s assessment was that the trial had been adjourned part heard.
“This will eventually be put right, but what a waste of time. As fees have fallen we need, at the very least, to be paid what we are entitled to. We are in the process of setting up regular meetings with the LAA to address these issues.”