Government announces increases to emergency cost limit for civil legal aid work

Cost limit increases for emergency civil legal aid certificates came in to effect on 13 September 2021, but certificates for investigative representations are excluded.

The government has increased the cost limit for emergency civil legal aid certificates affecting the work areas of full representation and family help (higher).

Emergency civil legal aid certificates will now be issued with a revised cost limit of £2,250. The limit has been deliberately set at this figure, which does not exceed substantive cost limits across different categories of law, and the change will be effective manually until a digital process has been developed.

Certificates for investigative representations will continue to include a cost limit of £1,350 however.

The new cost limit was introduced following suggestions from providers forming part of a government process efficiency team, which also includes Legal Aid Agency (LAA) subject matter experts and other representative bodies. It is thought that the increased limit will better reflect the work completed in emergency cases and should also reduce the administrative burden on providers.

A higher cost limit can still be agreed in exceptional circumstances and can be obtained by including details of the cost limit requested, alongside written justification within the “statement of case” or “merits report”. Authority for a cost limit to be reduced is provided for in CLA regulations, but will only be actioned if the justification provided is not appropriate.

Cost limits can be challenged if it is believed that a limit has been reduced in error, or an incorrect cost limit has been granted. Challenges can be emailed to [email protected].

Further information can be found here.

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