Legal Aid

Crime payment errors: claiming incorrect fees and VAT

PUBLISHED August 16, 2012

16 August 2012

Working together to tackle a key issue highlighted by the National Audit Office (NAO)

We want to continue building on the successes we've achieved by working with you to reduce common errors in payment claims.

We looked at disbursements and the importance of submitting the correct documentation in a recent issue of LSC Update (see 'further information').

Another big area of concern is the claiming of incorrect fees.

If we can tackle this issue we will be in a good position to build on the "significant improvements" noted recently by the NAO.

Examples of incorrect claims

Our testing unearthed some cases where providers had claimed the incorrect fee or had claimed a fee inappropriately.

Examples include:

  • an incorrect fee being claimed because the provider had withdrawn from the case
  • two claims disallowed for Police Station telephone advice because the client had already been charged before the telephone call was made
  • a prison law claim disallowed because it did not meet the sufficient benefit test for that category of law
  • providers claiming multiple fees for what is effectively the same case

Testing whether multiple fees are allowed

We have three tests to decide whether two or more standard fees may be claimed.

If the answer to any of these tests is 'yes' then only one standard fee may be claimed.

Were the charges:

  • laid at the same time? 
  • founded on the same facts? (the test here is whether the charges have a common factual origin)
  • part of a series of offences? (the test here is whether the offences exhibit some similar feature which would allow them to be described as a series of offences)

Further information

LSC website: Tackling crime payment errors

Standard Criminal Contract Part B

Criminal Bills Assessment Manual