Guidance

Attorney General’s civil panel counsel: practical information

Fees, expenses, contractual terms and administrative procedures for panel counsel, clerks and their chambers.

Fee notes for work done by panel counsel

Please submit your invoices in the form of monthly (or any discrete period) fee notes. They must include:

  • the GLD case reference (made up of 8 characters eg Z1234567 or LT89101K)
  • a clear differentiation between fees for legal work and other categories of fees and expenses
  • a reasonable description of the work done, broken down into date entries and the activities undertaken
  • the relevant hourly rate
  • the time spent
  • where payable, the time spent travelling and not working (paid at half the hourly rate)

Example Fee Note

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Any fee note that does not contain a GLD case reference or contains an incorrect GLD case reference will be automatically rejected by our payment system. The case reference must be obtained from the relevant GLD case officer on initial instruction. Please note that rolling fee notes, duplicate fee notes, ‘brief fees’ and ‘refreshers’ are not acceptable and will be automatically rejected and you will be notified by email.

It is important that your fee notes do not contain additional information that could compromise our cases and reputation if the fee note were to go astray. Send the fee note to:

GLD: Case-Related invoices
PO Box 678
Winchester
SO 23 5AB

It is very important that only fee notes and invoices are sent to the Winchester address. All other correspondence - but not case papers - must be sent to the Government Legal Department (GLD) at One Kemble Street.

You can submit fee notes electronically, but only in PDF format, to gldcaserelated@boxit.co.uk. If you are sending more than one invoice or fee note, each one must be in a separate PDF file.

Software to convert documents to PDF format is freely available for download from the internet but if your clerk would like some assistance, please contact panelcounsel@governmentlegal.gov.uk

If you have submitted a fee note but have not been paid, please send an email to accountspayable@governmentlegal.gov.uk. Please quote the GLD case reference in the subject line. One of the finance team will contact you to explain what is causing the delay in payment and when you can expect to be paid. Do not send a duplicate / reminder fee note as it will be automatically rejected as a duplicate request.

There have been some instances recently where fee notes have been received many months, sometimes years after the work was done. In some cases the departmental client has refused to pay. The budget for the matter in question has long since disappeared. Please be aware that if you do not submit fee notes promptly, ideally within three months, or actively pursue outstanding fee notes, there is a risk that they will not be paid.

Payment by BACS

BACS payments will save public money and arrive more quickly in the relevant bank account. Your clerk will receive confirmation of payment. If you would like to be paid by BACS, contact accountspayable@governmentlegal.gov.uk

Rates

London panel counsel

  • London A panel - £120 per hour
  • London B panel - £100 per hour
  • London C panel - £80 per hour if over 5 years call. £60 per hour if under 5 years call.

The rate of pay rises if/when you are promoted from C panel to B panel, or from B to A. The change in rate is immediate.

Regional panel rates

  • Ten years’ or more experience £110 per hour
  • Over 5 years’ experience but under 10 £90
  • Under 5 years’ experience £60

PIL panel rates

These are the same as the three London panel rates.

Off panel juniors and Junior juniors (formerly Baby barristers)

Off panel junior counsel are paid at panel rates.

  • Junior juniors (2nd six pupils): £25 per hour or £125 per day
  • Junior juniors (tenants): £45 per hour
  • Junior juniors (3rd six pupils): £45 per hour

Rates for QCs (silks)

Where an A panel member takes silk, they can continue to act in cases where they have already been instructed without the need for a nomination for a period of 12 months. They will do so at existing A panel rates.

As a general rule when counsel take silk (and are doing work for which a nomination is required i.e. work they did not start as A panel) they are paid at the rate of £180 per hour. Other silks are generally paid at an agreed rate between £180 and £250 per hour.

Where an increase in the hourly rate is agreed, this will normally apply to all work (including existing work) carried out after a specified date. Clerks should, however (unless the number of cases renders this impracticable) discuss the effects of the increase with the case holder.

Fixed fees for permission hearings

There is a fixed fee of £350 plus VAT for permission hearings in immigration judicial review proceedings.

The decision to pay a fixed fee rather than pay strictly according to the hourly rate reflects the ’swings and roundabouts’ nature of oral hearings in permission applications. The fee takes into account the average preparation time for a case in which there is usually an AOS (setting out the defendant’s arguments) and the fact that counsel for the defendant Secretary of State is not always called upon to speak. GLD will pay for cases which are withdrawn within 24 hours of the hearing as it is reasonable to expect you to have read into the case within that period and incur some charges.

On cases that are adjourned on the day, GLD will pay the standard fee for that first adjourned hearing and then pay half the full standard fee for any relisted hearing.

Clearly if the case is out of the ordinary, then GLD may be prepared to pay more, but this should be discussed with and agreed by the caseworker prior to any additional work being undertaken.

Travel, overnight accommodation and subsistence

You (or your clerks) should always discuss potential expenses with the case holder in advance, and before any expenditure is incurred, in light of the following:

  • Reasonable travel costs (time and expenses) may be paid if you are required to travel away from your normal geographical area of practice. This is usually determined by reference to the location of your chambers. Where this applies, travel claims are payable from your home address to the temporary place of work.
  • It follows from this that London Counsel will not be reimbursed for travel (time or expenses) within the M25. Regional Panel Counsel will not be reimbursed for travel (time or expenses) within their normal geographical area of practice, usually determined by reference to the metropolitan area where their chambers are located.
  • Travel time should be spent productively where possible. Where payable and where Counsel is not working on the relevant case (or any other case), travel time can be paid at one half of the appropriate hourly rate unless a daily rate to include travelling and waiting time has been negotiated with the case holder. Any travel time, and the half-hourly rate applied, should be clearly stated on the fee note.
  • When booking any sort of ticket you should avoid open ‘anytime’ or ‘fully flexible’ tickets. First class travel will only be reimbursed in special circumstances, for example, reasons of security (although Counsel must comply with security provisions at all times regardless of the class of travel).
  • If an overnight stay is required, you should discuss accommodation arrangements with the case holder to ensure the relevant expenses incurred are reasonable (for example, in line with equivalent rates payable for accommodation for civil servants). In GLD, there is an £80 per night booking ceiling which should normally be regarded as a maximum.
  • GLD do not pay a daily subsistence rate and will not reimburse expenses for food or drink. However, GLD will consider reimbursement at a reasonable rate for evening meals when an overnight stay is necessary.
  • Fee notes issued that cover travel, overnight accommodation and subsistence should clearly differentiate between those categories and for the fees for legal work which are charged. Any different rates of VAT which apply for different categories should also be clearly stated.

References

GLD will not provide references in cases where counsel wish to be promoted in a commercial forum (ie Legal 500, Chambers & Partners). However, with chambers increasingly bidding for public sector contracts where references are required GLD are prepared to provide a factual reference about the work done.

It is appropriate for individual lawyers to provide references for panel counsel.

GLD will give references for QC appointments and judicial appointments.

It has been agreed with the QC Appointments Commission that, where you name a government lawyer as an assessor, so far as possible, the assessment will be considered by the relevant head of division (or equivalent) to whom the assessor reports. This is to ensure balance and consistency in the references provided by government lawyers.

The reference may in fact still be prepared by the government lawyer asked to be an assessor, in consultation with their colleagues and after consideration by the head of division, signed by that government lawyer.

Alternatively the assessment may actually be given by the head of division in consultation with their colleagues. You should therefore try to avoid naming more than one government lawyer in the same team or division as you may end up with a single reference rather than two.

Monitoring performance

GLD monitor counsel according to a 3 box system:

  1. Significantly above requirements
  2. Fully met requirements
  3. Below requirements

Most box 3 marks tend to be given for tardy dealing with papers. If you are going to have problems doing something in time tell the case holder as soon as possible.

The results are used to report in general terms to the Attorney General on the performance and usage of all members of panels; they are also used for informing future selection boards and the Attorney General in considering applications for extensions of appointments and promotions.

Work

Although appointment to any panel does not guarantee that work will be available, the intention is that counsel is given at least a minimum amount of work.

The volume of work counsel receive will be monitored alongside their performance. If you want more work either because you feel you are being overlooked or because a trial has collapsed and you are unexpectedly free then you should contact panelcounsel@governmentlegal.gov.uk

Security of papers, email and data

Arrangements for collecting papers to go to GLD

Papers going between GLD and chambers must go by hand, government car, DX or DHL. Please ensure that papers are clearly addressed. Do not put papers relating to different cases in the same envelope or box.

DHL

Chambers should contact the case holder at GLD to book a DHL courier.

Safeguarding information

It is vital that panel counsel safeguard information entrusted to them.

Common security arrangements across civil litigating departments, the CPS and Whitehall prosecutors have been negotiated with the Bar Council. For further advice see the guidelines on information security and government work. The guidelines have been revised, with the agreement of the Bar Council, to reflect recent changes to the way that the government classifies its information.

Handling of protectively marked material guide for counsel (PDF, 162KB, 6 pages) explains how to handle information marked with the revised classifications. For guidance on documents marked using pre-April 2014 classifications please refer to the previous version of the guide, handling of protectively marked material guide for counsel (pre-April 2014 classifications) (PDF, 50.5KB, 8 pages)

Further information on the new classification system.

Reporting loss of data and minimising consequential risks

Accidents happen and thefts occur. Where ‘Official’ material is lost the professional client, chambers and, where appropriate, the police must be informed as soon as possible. Outside working hours, contact the GLD duty officer on 07909 895922. If no response within 20 minutes please call the No 10 switchboard on 020 732 0905.

Email

The Criminal Justice Secure Mail System (CJSM) is a free, relatively secure email system that GLD are encouraging all London and regional panels to sign up to. Although originally set up for criminal work, it is now available for the Attorney General’s civil panels.

Those using CJSM may from time to time receive communications referring to use only for criminal matters, please ignore these. For more information on CJSM see the note for counsel CJSM secure email (PDF, 149KB, 1 page) and the CJSM website.

Panel counsel must remember that encryption is very important and should read the encryption and erasure guidance for panel counsel (PDF, 152KB, 3 pages) .

Electronic storage of counsel’s opinions etc

GLD may store your opinions and other material on electronic systems to help in knowledge management. GLD appreciate the Bar’s concerns over the following matters:

  • breach of confidence
  • breach of implied undertakings
  • copyright
  • liability for negligence and insurance

A number of concerns fall away because the client is, in the majority of cases, part of that same indivisible body known as ’the Crown‘. If you have any concerns about any particular document then please contact panelcounsel@governmentlegal.gov.uk

Tenders

Chambers are increasingly bidding for the Public Sector contracts where references are required. In such circumstances GLD is prepared to provide factual reference about the work done.

Practical issues

Settlements in Court of Appeal

This guidance is particularly relevant to immigration work. The government is the Court of Appeal’s largest customer and consequently GLD are being asked to help the Civil Appeals Office ensure the best use of the Court of Appeal’s time. As part of this, efforts are being made to reduce the number of late settlements, particularly in the immigration cases that form such a large part of the Court’s work.

The important point to note is that for these purposes the Court of Appeal regards any case that settles within 3 weeks of the hearing date as a late settlement. This is the point at which the judges will often start reading the papers.

If a case settles within 3 weeks of the hearing date then both parties can expect a letter from the Civil Appeals Office asking for an explanation.

In order to assist in this, you should give the skeleton to GLD at least 7 weeks before the hearing date. This will give GLD the opportunity to finalise any settlement with the other side at least 3 weeks before the hearing.

Unless you advise that it is a case where the Secretary of State should concede you should produce the skeleton at the same time as you produce the initial advice.

Chambers’ complaints procedures

In many cases, given the nature of the Crown there will be no difference in legal personality between those instructing counsel and the rest of the departmental client. Therefore, there is no need for you to notify GLD of your chambers’ complaints procedure or other matters referred to in the Bar Standards Board guidance - provided the information can be found on the chambers’ website. As and when necessary GLD will pass details of those procedures to the relevant person.

The exception to this is where GLD are acting on behalf of, and you are representing, a private individual such as a prison officer or a soldier. In such cases you should send GLD whatever you would normally send to a client and GLD will forward it on.

New standard contractual terms

The new terms replaced the ‘Terms of work on which barristers offer their services to solicitors’ and the ‘Withdrawal of Credit Scheme 1988’. Neither of these documents have impinged much, if at all on panel work.

The new standard contractual terms apply for the purposes of “…the supply of legal services by barristers to authorised persons.” but the Treasury Solicitor and the solicitors to other public departments are not in fact “authorised persons” for the purposes of section 18(1)(a) of the Legal Services Act 2007. They stand in a special category position essentially untouched by the Act.

The relationship between the Treasury Solicitor and barristers will continue to be governed by the long standing arrangements relating to the Attorney General’s panel of counsel which have operated over a long period.

If you have any queries about the non applicability of the new standards terms please contact panelcounsel@governmentlegal.gov.uk

Government transparency data

GLD publishes details of all payment transactions over £25,000.

The data published includes payments to counsel. As the policy currently stands only payments over £25,000 made in a single month in respect of a single case will be included. VAT registration numbers are not given.

Chambers’ meetings

GLD has a programme of meeting clerks from larger sets of chambers each year.

If you want to meet those in GLD responsible for managing your civil panels, irrespective of the size of chambers or the number of panel counsel in it, please contact panelcounsel@governmentlegal.gov.uk

Extending appointments

It is possible to apply to extend the 5 year period of panel membership because of maternity leave or other periods of time when the panel member is unable to undertake advocacy. If you wish to discuss this then please contact panelcounsel@governmentlegal.gov.uk

Published 1 November 2013
Last updated 17 January 2017 + show all updates
  1. Update to fixed fees section.
  2. Update of 'Baby barristers' to 'Junior juniors'
  3. Address details updated
  4. Fee notes updated
  5. Clarification regarding hourly rate
  6. Contact information updated.
  7. 'Reporting loss of data and minimising consequential risks' section added.
  8. Update to panel counsel security guidance.
  9. Update to attachment.
  10. New guidelines on information security and government work.
  11. Latest information available.
  12. New guidelines on information security and government work now available.
  13. Includes information on the new classification system
  14. Draft version of the guidelines on information security and government work now available
  15. First published.