The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) says that adjustments to legal aid rates will deter lawyers from taking on the most complex cases and push already cash-strapped legal aid firms out of business.
The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, (opens in a new tab) published on 18th May, sets a new legal aid fee for appeals lodged online through the “core case data” platform, or CCD. The President of the First-tier Tribunal, Michael Clements, wants most appeals to be filed via CCD during the pandemic.
The standard fixed fee for a case lodged through CCD will now be £627 for an asylum case, or £527 for a non-asylum case. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) says that this has major implications for cases that settle before a full hearing — which CCD is specifically designed to encourage.
Lawyers can, roughly speaking, charge a more commercially viable hourly rate once their work on a case exceeds three times the value of the fixed fee. At the moment, the fixed fee is £227, so only £681 worth of work is required before hourly rates can be claimed. With a higher fixed fee, hourly rates can’t be charged until much more work has gone into the case — £1,881 for an asylum case (i.e. three times the new standard fee of £627).
You can read the full statement from the ILPA here (opens in a new tab)