Clarification on claims for work carried out by enquiry agents and process servers.
We would like to clarify our approach when considering claims for work carried out by enquiry agents and process servers.
This follows a number of enquiries about the work that can be claimed for.
Our approach to assessing work is on the basis of the ‘reasonableness of the costs incurred’.
The idea is to make sure the most cost effective means of service has been used. This takes into account the:
- overall cost of service
- location of agent used
Where travel costs have been incurred the invoice should provide details of where the travel is to and from. Post codes should also be included.
Generally, there is an expectation that an enquiry agent within either the locality of the court or the respondent would be instructed.
This approach is confirmed in 3.10 of the cost assessment guidance which confirms: “It will seldom be reasonable to instruct an enquiry agent except in the locality where the work is being done”.
Where travel is claimed you should provide detailed justification confirming why you were unable to instruct a local process server.
Where there has been a need for repeated attempts at service we may ask whether substituted service was considered by the court.
This will allow us to consider whether it was reasonable to make those attempts at service.
Time for swearing affidavits
It is considered that an allowance of between 12 and 18 minutes would be reasonable for the drafting and swearing of the affidavit. Any amounts claimed in excess of these times would require full justification.
Time claimed for explaining terms of order
We will only allow a nominal amount of about 6 minutes where time has been claimed for explaining the terms of the order. Where the time taken to explain the terms of the order is lengthy then reasons for this must be provided.
There is no provision to charge for administrative costs. For example, preparing a reporting invoice or proof of service.
Swear fees are claimable. The cost for the affidavit is approximately £5 for one document and then a further £2 for any additional document.
Where charges have been made for additional documents full details of what these documents are should be provided together with copies.
Legal aid guidance – for costs assessment guidance documents
Published: 26 May 2016
From: Legal Aid Agency