Paper and CCMS Legal Aid – The Differences
When applying for and claiming costs under a Legal Aid Certificate, there are a number of differences between paper and CCMS claims which are worth noting.
Legal Aid Certificate – Amendments & Cost Limitation
The first most obvious difference is the format of the Legal Aid Certificate. On a paper certificate any amendments are recorded on the certificate, so that at the end of the proceedings you would have one certificate which includes all amendments made throughout the proceedings. On a CCMS certificate only the most recent amendment is included, therefore it is very important to keep copies of each version of a certificate when an amendment is made. This ensures that you have evidence to support any claim you make.
A further difference in respect of the Legal Aid Certificates is the cost limitations when representing more than one client in proceedings (i.e. children in Care proceedings). On paper an equal cost limitation is given to each certificate, however this is different on CCMS. On CCMS several certificates under one set of proceedings are linked together and the cost allocation given to one lead certificate. The other certificates are given a zero cost limitation. Any claims for costs are made under the lead certificate.
Another major difference on CCMS is how Counsel’s fees are claimed and paid. In order for Counsel to be paid, Instructed Solicitors need to allocate a portion of their cost limitation to Counsel. Counsel can then make their claim direct on CCMS. Instructed Solicitors need to do this for each claim Counsel wish to make and at the end of the proceedings the amount allocated to Counsel must match the figure paid to Counsel (or be within £10.00).
In CCMS claims for assessment by the Legal Aid Agency, Counsel‘s fees are not included in the claim but are still included for claims to be assessed by the Court. Counsel’s fees are included in Court assessed claims, as these fees need to be included in the sealed EX80a/b. Whether or not Counsel’s fees are included in the claim, they are still taken into account in respect of a certificate’s cost limitation. They are also taken into consideration in Civil and non FAS cases in relation to whether a matter should be assessed by the LAA or by the Court.
Submitting a claim & payment.
Before any bill can be submitted for payment, the case must be discharged and the outcome codes completed on CCMS. The outcome codes are very similar to the codes used on page 2 of the paper Claim 1/1As. Once the case has been discharged and the outcome codes completed, the final bill option is made available on CCMS.
Also if there have been several CCMS linked certificates under one matter (as previously mentioned) and the claim has been made under the lead certificate, the Legal Aid Agency may require Nil Bills to be submitted under the zero balance certificates before they will pay the main claim. The Nil Bills are used to close off the certificates on CCMS. In papers bills this is not required. Details of all certificates are included in the final claim, which are then discharged upon payment if they have not already been discharged through the submission of APP 11s.
If you have any queries in relation to the above article, if you have any Legal Aid costing queries in general, or would like to know how Paramount Legal Costs can help you, please contact Claire by clicking here to email her or call direct on 01228 815396