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Imperfect harmony

Proposals for advocacy fees are based on flawed data that puts access to family justice at risk; so will the government reconsider its plans, asks Lucy Theis QC

12 May 2009

The consultation period for the Legal Services Commission (LSC) proposals in its Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010 consultation closed on 6 April. It is of note that the LSC received over 1,500 responses to this consultation; a record response that demonstrates the deep level of concern on both sides of the profession regarding these flawed proposals.

True harmonisation?

The proposals seek to ‘harmonise’ advocacy payments. The Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) proposed a fee scheme that paid the same fee for the same work, whether the advocacy was conducted by a solicitor or barrister, in the late 1990s. This was rejected by the LSC. The FLBA repeated this suggestion in 2006 – again it was rejected by the LSC.

These latest proposals do not seek to pay the same fee for the same work; in fact they propose the same fee for very different work. For interim hearings the proposed fixed fee is the same whether a case lasts five minutes or fiv...

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