Guidance

Family high cost cases

Care Case Fee Scheme (CCFS), Two/Leading Counsel Events, and detailed case plans to use when a legal-aid-funded family case becomes high cost.

When a case becomes high cost

A case becomes high cost when the costs are expected to exceed £25,000.

There are 2 teams managing high cost family cases:

  • Very High Cost Case (VHCC) family team (South Tyneside) - deals with single counsel/advocate cases in private and public law family matters
  • Exceptional and Complex Case Team (ECCT) family section (London) - deals with QC/2 counsel cases in private and public law family matters and all high cost child abduction and Court of Protection cases

You’ll find general guidance on high cost family cases in the Family overview pack (PDF, 455KB, 12 pages) .

When registering/notifying your case as high cost you may find it helpful to use this template. This will ensure you include all relevant information and minimise delays that may be caused by LAA requests for further information.

Single Counsel Family Cases

Methods of costing

There are 2 main methods of costing these family cases:

  • Care Case Fee Schemes (CCFS) - formerly known as the events pricing model which has been mandatory on single counsel care cases for registrations since 1st October 2015
  • Detailed (fully costed) case plans used on non-care cases plus care cases that the LAA deem to be exceptional

Overview of CCFS

The CCFS model is used in family cases to avoid multiple revisions to detailed case plans. It’s a form of graduated/fixed fee, dependent on the number of hearing days and other events (as outlined in the guidance). A series of fixed amounts are applied to each event based on the predicted timetable. At the end of the case, the final costs are adjusted to reflect the actual timetable. The fee applied to each event is based on detailed analysis of the average costs and hours in these type of expensive/complex cases.

Some private law and other child cases, which follow a similar fact-finding route and have main hearings over 10 days, may qualify for the CCFS scheme (on request and agreed by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).

Legal Aid Agency (LAA) guidance, below, explains the details of each scheme within CCFS and the blank and example completed case plans will help you fill them in.

CCFS information pack (October 2015)

CCFS form

CCFS form: completed example

CCFS form checklist

VHCC calculator

Family VHCC cases registered before 1 October 2015

CCMS quick guides

Provider bulletin

Final Assessment Streamlining Tool: Single Counsel CCFS cases

On 1 December 2016 the VHCC team introduced a new way of managing CCFS submissions to make the process of issuing High Cost contracts quicker and more efficient and reduce delay for our providers. To streamline the contract negotiation process the VHCC team are seeking to agree the majority of Interim CCFS Form submissions (cases that have not concluded) without supporting documentation. This should result in the agreement of high cost contracts more speedily. It also recognises that the predicted courses of cases often change resulting in a change to the pricing model, meaning that it is more sensible to scrutinise the CCFS Form at the end of the case when all orders, fee notes and vouchers are available. At the conclusion of the case Providers should submit their Final CCFS Form accompanied by a checklist of required information to enable a final contract value to be fixed.

FAST interim CCFS form completion checklist (MS Word Document, 33.5KB)

FAST final CCFS form completion checklist (MS Word Document, 42KB)

Exceptional Care Cases

Since 1 October 2015 all single counsel/solicitor care cases will be paid under the VHCC Family Care Case Fee Scheme (CCFS). The only exception will be if you can show you would be paid at least 30% more by claiming hourly rates with a case plan rather than using the CCFS model. Full case planning is applied to those cases that are exceptional in nature and where CCFS does not properly remunerate the costs of the case. However, it should be recognised that CCFS is a much quicker method of case-planning as demonstrated below

VHCC family flow chart (PDF, 216KB, 1 page)

Two Counsel/ Leading Counsel

All high cost family care cases requiring QC or 2 counsel will require Prior Authority. These should be submitted as an Amendment via CCMS (or APP8 if the case is not being run on CCMS). It is anticipated that they will be subject to the QC/2 counsel events based fee scheme.

QC/2 counsel information pack

Two counsel case plan

Two counsel case plan example

Final Assessment Streamlining Tool: Leading/ Two Counsel events cases

On 1 October 2017 the ECC team introduced a new way of managing events submissions to make the process of issuing High Cost contracts quicker and more efficient and reduce delay for our providers.

To streamline the contract negotiation process the ECC team are seeking to agree the majority of Interim Events Case Plan submissions (cases that have not concluded) without supporting documentation. This should result in the agreement of high cost contracts more speedily. It also recognises that the predicted courses of cases often, meaning that it is more sensible to scrutinise the Events Case Plan Form at the end of the case when all orders, fee notes and vouchers are available. At the conclusion of the case Providers should submit their Final Events Case Plan accompanied by a checklist of required information to enable a final contract value to be fixed.

FAST interim Events Case Plan completion checklist (MS Word Document, 41KB)

FAST final Events Case Plan completion checklist (MS Word Document, 44.5KB)

Detailed (fully costed) family case plans

All high cost family care cases registered from 1st October 2015 will qualify for the CCFS model. Exceptionally, full case planning may be applied to those cases that are more complex or unusual and that would be paid at least 30% more under hourly rates. A request must be made to and agreed by LAA.

All other family HCC including private law, child abduction and Court of Protection cases, are managed using detailed (fully costed) case plans.

These cases will be managed between the Exceptional and Complex Case Team in London and the VHCC Team in South Tyneside.

These plans set out:

  • description of the case
  • assessment of its prospects
  • legal and factual issues to be investigated and resolved
  • details of costs
  • the selection of counsel and experts used

Full case planning Information pack

Fully costed case plan: family VHCC

Fully costed case plan: family VHCC - example

Template case plan

Fully costed case plan checklist

Counsel Fees

The VHCC Team and the ECC Team have different methods for calculating counsel fees. Please see the attached guidance to work out the different rates of Payments to counsel (PDF, 571KB, 5 pages) in high cost family cases.

How to contact us

Please note that on all cases being run on CCMS you should submit requests/ submissions via CCMS

VHCC Family Team (South Tyneside)

VHCC Family Team, Legal Aid Agency
Berkley Way, Viking Business Park
Jarrow NE31 1SF

DX: 742 350 Jarrow 2

Phone: 0300 200 2020

Email: vhcc.queries@justice.gov.uk

ECC Family Section (London)

ECC Family Section, Legal Aid Agency
6th Floor (6.35), 102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

DX: 161440 – Westminster 8

Phone:0300 200 2020

Email: contactECC@justice.gov.uk

High cost non-family cases for other high cost civil cases.

Published 1 June 2014
Last updated 7 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. Information regarding Two/Leading Counsel Events published.
  2. Payments to counsel document updated.
  3. Final Assessment Streamlining Tool for Single Counsel CCFS cases section added.
  4. New address added: DX: 161440 – Westminster 8 Phone: 0203 334 5750 Email: highcostcivil@legalaid.gsi.gov.uk
  5. First published.