How to appeal against our assessment findings on individual claims, or a sample of claims, billed to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).
The LAA undertakes a number of different assessment types to validate claims billed to the agency across the controlled work fund. All of these audit activities follow the appeals process as set out in full in the civil and criminal contract specifications.
How to appeal
You have the right of appeal against our assessment findings on individual claims, or a sample of claims, billed to the LAA.
To do this you must appeal to the LAA team who undertook the assessment within a set 28 day time limit, you can also apply for a short extension of up to 14 days within the first 21 days of this limit.
The appeal stages are:
- internal review
- independent costs assessment (ICA)
- applying for a point of principle (PoP) of general importance
Appeals must be made in writing and accompanied by the relevant files.
An internal LAA reviewer will carry out a review of the original decision considering your representations made. If your representations are accepted in full the appeal process ends and the reviewer will write to you advising of changes made to the original decision and the recalculated results.
The LAA will then proceed with any required claim adjustment/recoupment.
Independent costs assessment (ICA)
Where your appeal is not accepted in full, the issues remaining under dispute will then proceed to an independent costs assessor for determination.
Any appeal to an assessor is considered on paper. In exceptional circumstances either party can apply to the assessor for an oral hearing, and the assessor will decide if an oral hearing is required. The ICA will review the assessment together with your appeal, consider the issues, and make decisions on the matters under dispute.
The assessor’s final determination on the appeal will then be forwarded to you along with the revised impact upon the assessments.
The LAA will proceed with any required claim adjustment or recoupment (noting any relevant point of principle application deadline/outcome).
Point of principle
At any point after submitting an appeal, but not later than 21 days after receipt of the final decision, the LAA or the provider can seek clarification on the costs rules and provisions.
This is by applying for a PoP statement to be certified. Applications should be made to the LAA team who undertook your assessment.
The application must set out the exact wording of the PoP sought. The application will then be forwarded within 7 days of receipt to the LAA’s legal director.
The LAA’s legal director will decide whether the matter should progress to the Costs Appeals Committee. The decision of the LAA’s legal director and/or the Costs Appeals Committee will then be sent to the provider and the LAA.