As you may now be aware significant changes in the Legal Aid system came in to effect on the 3rd October 2011. Whilst the majority of the Consultation is in relation to Lawyer’s fees, the Commission have addressed cost control of experts, aiming to increase transparency and consistency but, above all, to control the ‘unsustainable’ rising costs of expert fees.
Incredibly neither the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) nor the Legal Services Commission (LSC) have current, up to date data on expert costs, mainly because payments to experts are not currently recorded separately from other disbursements by the LSC. With the current system, the LSC tries to control expenditure through ‘prior authority’; however, there is currently no requirement for them to set a benchmark hourly rate and subsequently they feel they have been paying different amounts for similar work by different experts.
The proposal essentially aims to reduce expert fees by 10% and afford the LSC greater control over the costs of experts. The purpose of this document is to make you aware of the specific changes to the Legal Aid system that directly affects experts. The contents of our White Paper has been taken from The Community Legal Service (Amendment 2) Order 2011 and is stated here without prejudice. This document will be available to view on line at www.legislation.gov.uk in due course.