Guidance

Apply to Legal Aid Appeals panel

The Legal Aid Agency are looking for exceptional solicitors and barristers with legal aid experience to join our Appeals Review panel.

The role

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) are looking to create a panel of up to 100 Independent Funding and Costs Adjudicators (IFCAs), of whom up to 25 are able to sit as the Special Controls Review panel (SCRP) and up to 20 as the Very High Costs Case (VHCC) panel.

As an IFCA or member of SCRP or VHCC you will use your knowledge and expertise to decide appeals against refusal of funding and provisional assessment of costs. We expect to allocate you up to 60 hours of work per annum and the appeals you consider will be provided to you in line with the areas of law in which you practice. The size and complexity of cases varies; however, you may be deciding appeals where costs and disbursements of over £10,000 have been incurred.

As an IFCA you will mainly work alone, but exceptionally may be asked to join a Committee of 2 or more members where the circumstances of the case require the considered opinions of more than 1 panel member. SCRP and VHCC sit as panels, usually of 3 members. You will be remunerated at a rate of £52 per hour and reasonable expenses will be reimbursed. SCRP and VHCC panels will be remunerated at half-day rates.

You will not be an employee of LAA. Accordingly, nothing in this brief shall be construed, or taken to create, an offer of contract of employment between yourself and LAA.

Background

In 2013 LAA created a national Appeals Review Panel with skill-sets matched to the volume and nature of the appeals we expected to receive. We communicate with members about changes in practices and procedures designed to improve consistency of decision-making.

These are public appointments, with recommendations to appoint being made by LAAs Chief Executive to the Minister. Chairs and a Vice Chair will been appointed.

Much of the information that you will see as a Review panel member will be subject to confidentiality provisions, but may be disclosed, along with your notes or other appeal documents.

It is essential to remember that, in exercising this public function, you must adhere to the key principles of public law and follow the 7 principles of public life – set out below. Every decision you make will need to be properly justified with appropriate reasons.

LAA and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) have agreed an indemnity for Review panel members in carrying out their functions, provided they have acted honestly and in good faith. LAA will determine the applicability of the indemnity according to the facts of any particular case.

Essential criteria

IFCAs:

  1. (As a solicitor) An experienced legal aid contract-holder with good knowledge of the LAAs Contract and Regulations and a proven record of accurate, timely and successful submissions for funding and claims for costs.

  2. (As a barrister) You will handle regular legal aid work and have a proven record of high-quality advice, advocacy and billing on such cases.

  3. A specialism in 1 or more of the following areas of law:

  • debt
  • education
  • employment
  • housing
  • family
  • probate and succession
  • clinical negligence
  • civil mediation
  • public law children
  • mental health
  • human rights
  • judicial review
  • high cost cases
  • multi-party actions
  • crime
  • prison law
  • immigration
  • extradition
  • actions against the Police.

SCRP and VHCC:

As above, and with experience of high-cost legally-aided civil cases (SCRP) or criminal defence work (VHCC).

Chair or Vice-Chair:

As above, and with experience of legally-aided civil or criminal cases including at high-cost level. Experience of chairing a legal decision-making process within a legal aid committee or similar role, or through judicial appointment.

All positions:

  1. Highly effective interpersonal and communications skills including succinct and effective report-writing.

  2. Experience of objective decision-making against a set of criteria that requires both adherence to rules and the reasonable and impartial exercise of discretion, in circumstances where the facts may be complex and where there may be pressure from individuals in serious personal circumstances and from those representing them.

  3. Understanding of, and commitment to, the 7 Principles of Public Life and to the practising of equality and diversity

Desirable criteria

We will prefer candidates with experience of legal decision-making as an IFA/ICA or similar, or candidates with judicial appointments. SCRP and VHCC appointments also require discrete skills in high-cost and complex areas, such as public law, judicial review, human rights, crime and multi-party actions. We will prefer candidates for Chair who have previous experience at board level or similar.

What we expect of you

Use personal and professional skills, experience and judgement with the highest standards of integrity and honesty in decision-making.

Timetable

The closing date for applications will be 22 April 2016. We will carry out a short-listing process and then conduct telephone interviews between 16 and 20th May 2016, for which you will be given 10 working days’ notice. The appointments will be effective from 1 July 2016 for a period of 2 years.

How to apply

The Legal Aid Appeals panel application form (MS Word Document, 64.9KB) has all instructions and contact details.

7 Principles of Public Life :

  1. Selflessness - Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
  2. Integrity - Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisation that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
  3. Objectivity - In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
  4. Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
  5. Openness - Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when wider public interest clearly demands.
  6. Honesty - Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
  7. Leadership - Promoting the above principles by example & leadership.
Published 16 March 2016