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Changes to crime remuneration for legal aid.

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On 3rd 0ctober 2011 changes to crime remuneration for legal aid were introduced, these changes apply to claims where the date of the Representation Order is on or after 3rd October. These are detailed in the Ministry of Justice's response to the consultation paper 'Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales'. The key changes: - The fees for indictable only and either-way offences that are committed for Crown Court trial from the Magistrates' Court will be reduced by 25% in the case of a cracked trial. This encompasses situations where the prosecution has decided to end the case, or the defendant has either changed his plea to guilty at the date of trial or pleads guilty to an alternative charge. - The PPE uplifts for 2nd and final third cracks will be harmonised. By harmonising, this means that the greater uplift of the final third will be reduced. Also, the basic fees for these proceedings will be cut by 11%. - There will be a fixed fee of £565, consisting of £362 for the litigator and £203 to the advocate for either way cases where the magistrates did not decline jurisdiction, however the defendant elected a jury trial and subsequently changed his plea to guilty. Linked to this is the removal of a committal fee, which has the result of lawyers running cases that may not allow them to receive any remuneration for some of the work they undertake whatsoever. - The Lower and Higher Standard fees for guilty pleas in the Magistrates' court have been enhanced by 23% and 8.3% respectively. Whilst these are increases, it should be noted that they are another way of trying to prevent as many cases reaching the Crown Court that result in guilty pleas being entered. - The fees for murder and manslaughter (category A) offences have been downgraded to the same as serious violence (category J) offences. - For cases of dishonesty, the fee payment for cases involving offences worth between £30,000 and £100,000 is now the same as the lower fee that was previously only applied to offences worth below £30,000. - The premium that litigators practising in London received has now been lowered so that it is consistent with the fees paid to litigators elsewhere in the country. - Firms that take on cases with a length of 41-60 days will still be issued VHCC contracts, however the fees will be reduced from the VHCC hourly rates to the LGFS. - The benchmark rate for experts shall be reduced by 10%. In the face of such strong opposition to the original proposals, it is concerning that the Ministry of Justice has imposed such radical cost saving measures with little or no justification. For more information please complete our Enquiry Form call us on 01245 493939 or email mail@gepp.co.uk The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.