The LAA has very kindly published the 2017 Standard Crime Contract on the internet, which means it is possible to see exactly what the specifications are for the employed status of duty solicitors and also any restrictions on crime supervisors. Please see the extract in bold regarding ghost duty solicitors and the new requirements for each duty solicitor working with a firm. If you find yourself in need of criminal law courses, they are online resources available.
Contract work introduction
- Unless otherwise stated, definitions that are set out in Legal Aid Legislation and the Standard Terms apply to this Specification and are not repeated.
- In Specification, some expressions have the following meanings:
- “Accreditation” means accreditation under the Law Society’s Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme;
- “Accredited Representative” means an individual whose name is included on the Police Station Register and who is accredited by a body recognized by us as competent to grant such accreditation;
- “Advice and Assistance” means advice and assistance provided under section 13 or 15 of the Act (as applicable);
- “Assigned Counsel” means Counsel or in-house advocate who is assigned under a Representation Order in accordance with regulation 16 and 17 of the Criminal Legal Aid (Determinations by a Court and Choice of Representative) Regulations 2013;
- “Back-up” means a system by which the DSCC seeks to contact another Duty Solicitor when a Duty Solicitor on a Rota is unable to accept a request for Police Station Advice and Assistance;
- “Call In” or “Call In Scheme” means the magistrates’ court Panel Duty Scheme which is operated by a court contracting the Duty Solicitor directly as and when he or she is required at court;
- “Caseworker” means an employee who is not a Supervisor, but who is a fee-earner who regularly undertakes criminal defence work to whom a specific caseload of Contract Work is allocated and is responsible for the progression of those cases, within their specific caseload, under supervision. Caseworker includes paralegals;
- “Child” means an individual under the age of 18;
- “Civil Financial Regulations” means regulations made under section 21 of the Act that relate to civil Legal Aid;
- “Civil Procedure Regulations” means the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012;
- “Civil Remuneration Regulations” means regulations made under section 2(3) of the Act that relate to civil Legal Aid;
- “Contract Guide” means a guide issued by us specifically in relation to the Contract and published on our website;
- “Contribution Order Regulations” means the Criminal Legal Aid (Contribution Orders) Regulations 2013 and any other regulations made under section 23 of the Act that relate to criminal Legal Aid;
- “Controlled Work” has the meaning given to it in regulation 21(2) of the Civil Procedure Regulations;
- “Costs Limitation” means the limitation setting out our maximum liability as to costs (including profit costs, Disbursements and Counsels’ fees but excluding VAT and the costs of Assessment) imposed by the Director, and described as an Upper Limit in respect of a Representation Order granted in respect of Prescribed Proceedings in the Crown Court;
- “CJS Area” means the areas into which England and Wales is divided for the purposes of administering the CJS, the CJS areas being based on the police areas as set out in Schedule 1 of the Police Act 1996;
- “CPD” means continuing professional development as defined in your Relevant Professional Body’s applicable training regulations.
- “Criminal Defence Direct Fixed Acceptance Fee” means the fee set out in the Criminal Remuneration Regulations which is claimable in an Escape Fee Case if a former Criminal Defence Direct case is referred to you to provide Police Station Advice and Assistance.
- “Criminal Defence Direct Matter” means Police Station Advice and Assistance which is not within the scope of this Specification and may only be undertaken by a Criminal Defence Direct Telephone Adviser, unless an exception as set out in Section 9 applies;
- “Criminal Defence Direct Telephone Adviser” means a person approved by us to be employed or engaged specifically to provide telephone advice for the purposes of Criminal Defence Direct, the minimum qualification for whom shall be the Law Society’s Police Station Qualification.
- “Criminal Financial Regulations” means the Criminal Legal Aid (Financial Resources) Regulations 2013 and any other regulations made under section 21 of the Act that relate to criminal Legal Aid;
- “Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme” or “CLAS” means the Law Society criminal litigation accreditation scheme;
- “Criminal Remuneration Regulations” means the Criminal Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013 and other regulations made under section 2(3) of the Act that relate to criminal Legal Aid;
- “Designated Area(s)” means the CJS Areas of: London, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Midlands, and the local authority areas of: Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby & Erewash, Kingston upon Hull, Leeds & Bradford, Leicester, Nottingham, Portsmouth,
- “Mandatory Electronic Working” means information in relation to Contract Work that you must provide to the Director or us electronically through the Crime System in accordance with the Specification. Without limitation, examples of the type of information you must provide to us electronically are:
- Making applications for determinations
- Making requests for withdrawals or transfers for representation;
- Submitting requests for prior authorities and payments on account;
- Submitting claims for contract work;
- Appealing or reviewing decisions made by us on claims; or
- Reviewing or appealing determinations about whether an individual qualifies for criminal legal services.
Scope of specifications
This Specification applies to the following Classes of Work and Units of Work:
For the criminal investigation Work conducted at the Police Station is advice assistance. Again, if you find yourself in need of criminal law courses, they are online resources available.
For the criminal investigations, work conducted outside the Police Station is for:
- Free Standing Advice and Assistance
- Advocacy Assistance on a warrant of further detention provided under section 15(2)(b) of the Act
- Advocacy Assistance for armed forces custody hearings provided under section 15(2)(b) of the Act
- Advocacy Assistance in the magistrates’ court in connection with an application to vary police bail conditions provided under section 15(2)(b) of the Act
- Advocacy Assistance in the magistrates’ court in connection with an application to extend pre-charge bail provided under section 15(2)(b) of the Act
For criminal Proceedings, these are:
- Advocacy Assistance and Advocacy Assistance by a court Duty Solicitor provided under section 15 (2)(b) of the Act
- Advocacy Assistance at the Virtual Court provided under section 15(2)(b) of the Act
- Representation in the magistrates’ court provided under section 16 of the Act
- Pre-Order Cover, Early Cover, Means test form completion
- Representation in Prescribed Proceedings in the Crown Court other than in appeals from the magistrates’ court provided under section 16 of the Act
- Representation in the Crown Court under a Representation Order in mainstream Criminal Proceedings provided under section 16 of the Act
- Representation in the High Court or county court
- Representation in the Higher Courts
- Representation in relation to proceedings for breach of injunctions arising under Part 1 of the Anti-Social behavior, Crime and Policing Act 2014
For the Prison Law:
- Sentence Cases – Advice and Assistance provided under section 15(2)(c) of the Act
- Disciplinary Cases – Advice and Assistance or Advocacy Assistance provided under section 15(2)(c) of the Act
- Parole Board Cases – Advice and Assistance or Advocacy Assistance provided under section 15(2)(c) of the Act
For Associated Civil Work carried out under the provisions governing civil Legal Aid in Part 1 of the Act:
- Legal Help and civil Legal Representation – Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
- Legal Help and civil Legal Representation – judicial review or habeas corpus
- Civil Legal Services in relation to proceedings for injunctions sought in respect of alleged anti-social behavior arising under Part 1 Section 1 of the Anti-Social Behavior Crime and Policing Act 2014
- Supervisors who qualify may act as a Supervisor for more than one Class of Work.
- Supervisors must at all times during their working hours (except as required for the proper performance of their role such as attending court and/or Clients) work from one or any combination of your Offices.
- Supervisors may act as a Supervisor at a maximum of two of your Offices.
- Save in respect of Prison Law which is the subject of Paragraph 2.10 an individual may not act as a Supervisor for you if they act as a Supervisor for another Provider.
- A Prison Law Supervisor may also act as a Supervisor for a maximum of one other Provider.
- You must notify us if any Supervisor leaves your organization, ceases to meet the Supervisor standards set out in this Specification or fails to perform their duties as a Supervisor in a timely manner and with all reasonable skill, care and diligence. Where your Supervisor ceases to meet the Supervisor standards or fails to perform their duties in the manner described, such member of your personnel must immediately cease acting as a Supervisor.
- A Supervisor may delegate functions to an employee who does not meet all the Supervisor standards in this Specification to act as their deputy Supervisor. However, the Supervisor must continue to supervise the deputy Supervisor and have a training and development plan to provide the necessary skills and experience for the deputy Supervisor to become a Supervisor in future.
- Your Supervisor(s) must meet the Supervisor standards in this Specification at the time of being appointed as Supervisor and continue to do so in any 12-month period thereafter.
- Your Supervisor(s) must take account of any changes in legislation and case law.
Duty solicitors and the regulations applicable to them
Designated Fee Earners
2.32. You are required to have a document that identifies all staff, their current jobs, and lines of responsibility. If you need criminal law courses, they are online resources available. This must cover all Designated Fee Earners and must show:
- Whether the fee-earner is a Duty Solicitor, Solicitor, an Accredited Representative, Probationary Representative or other non-Solicitor personnel
- Any fee-earner coding or PIN numbers used by them.
2.33 Where any Designated Fee Earner is a Duty Solicitor, you must maintain evidence of compliance with the Duty Solicitor rules in Section 6.
2.34 Where a Designated Fee Earner is an Accredited Representative, you must maintain a record of the evidence of compliance with the requirements needed to maintain Accredited Representative status.
2.35 The information required in Paragraphs 2.32 to 2.34 above must be retained on a personnel file for each Designated Fee Earner. Alternatively, you must retain the information for all staff together in a single location.
2.36 You must designate all fee earners who regularly undertake Contract Work under this Contract for you. For the purposes of designation only, when identifying fee-earners, you may disregard any fee-earning work (which may be Contract Work) which is basic or routine, such as the completion of standard forms, making routine telephone calls, and dispatching standard letters. In addition, you do not have to designate staff who only occasionally undertakes a limited amount of work i.e. less than three hours a month.
2.37 You must designate all Supervisors that carry out Contract Work, Filex Supervisors, Duty Solicitors, Accredited Representatives and Probationary Representatives employed by you.
2.38 You may designate fee-earners not employed by you but whom you instruct regularly.
Percentage of contract work that must be performed by designated fee earners
2.39 In relation to Contract Work, we require:
- a) 80% of instances of Police Station Advice and Assistance (both attendances and telephone advice) to be conducted by Designated Fee Earners; and
- b) 50% of instances of Advocacy Assistance or Representation at the magistrates’ court to be conducted by Designated Fee Earners.
2.40 We will assess compliance with Paragraph 2.39 over any period of not less than three months (but not exceeding 12 months). However, we will not do so until the number of equivalent cases undertaken or reported is at least 20.
2.41 Your Offices are specified in your Schedule. Your Schedule will confirm if you are eligible to undertake Duty Solicitor work from each specific Office.
2.42 Each Office specified in your Schedule must be located in England or Wales.