VHCCs - Very High Cost (Criminal) Cases

Apply for a Very High Cost Case (VHCC) contract.

Applies to England and Wales

Notifying the Criminal Cases Unit (CCU) of a possible VHCC

You must tell us as soon as it appears that the case has, or is likely to have, a trial estimate in excess of 40 days. Use the VHCC Notification Form (MS Word Document, 37.9 KB).

If the trial estimate is between 40 and 60 days, we will issue an Individual Case Contract but pay you under the applicable Graduated Fee schemes.

Where the trial estimate is in excess of 60 days, we will (absent exceptional circumstances) contract the case as a VHCC and proceed with the applicable contractual arrangements.

To notify us of a potential VHCC or if you are in any doubt, please email us at:

How a VHCC works:

  • each defence team will be assigned a dedicated Case Manager from the CCU
  • the Case Manager will negotiate with the defence team to agree the scope and extent of work to be undertaken in 3 month stages (we remunerate self-employed advocates under the Interim Fixed Fee Offer detailed below)
  • payment is made at the end of each 9 month stage - as long as the work falls within the tasks and hours agreed in advance

Read further guidance on high cost case arrangements and contract documents for organisations and self-employed advocates.

VHCC accreditation

If you are not already accredited to conduct a VHCC you will be advised to obtain accreditation. We will provide the applicable guidance and any necessary forms. The current eligibility criteria are set out at Annex A of the 2017 VHCC arrangements (PDF, 339 KB, 30 pages). Please email us at to progress any matters relating to accreditation.

Interim Fixed Fee Offer

Self-employed advocates instructed in criminal VHCCs may choose to be paid via an Interim Fixed Fee Offer (IFFO).

Once contracted as a VHCC the Case Manager will collate relevant information about the case. This will include, but not be limited to: * the offences charged * volume of prosecution material * estimated/confirmed trial length

Once validated, we enter the information into a IFFO Model (XLSM, 86 KB) spreadsheet to derive a whole case fee. This is subject to later adjustment and is payable in 3 instalments. We will draft a VHCC Substantive IFFO contract for each self-employed advocate. Further information on how the whole case fee is derived is contained in the document Interim Fixed Fee Offer Scheme explanatory note (PDF, 370 KB, 2 pages).

Upon receipt of a signed contract the designated Case Manager will pay the First Instalment. If the trial has not started within 6 months of the contract being signed, Counsel may claim an interim payment of 50% of the Second Instalment. When the trial commences, the balance of, or full, Second Instalment will be paid. The Third Instalment is paid after the trial concludes.

Appeal a VHCC decision

The CCU Case Manager and defence team negotiate the scope and extent of work to be undertaken in each stage of the case in advance. If agreement on a specific task (or group of tasks) cannot be reached, the defence team have a right of appeal to an independent VHCC Appeals Adjudicator/Committee.

The process and timescales are set out in section 6 of the VHCC Specification.


Livenote is a real time court transcription service, the cost of which is divided equally between the court, prosecution and defence.

To secure funding for your share of the cost, email a Livenote application form (MS Word Document, 122 KB)

Contact details

Criminal Cases Unit
LAA, Level 6, The Capital, Union Street, Liverpool, L3 9AF

DX 745810, Liverpool 35


Published 1 June 2014
Last updated 23 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on VHCC cases and how to apply for accreditation

  2. Publication of the calculator and explanatory note for criminal advocates’ fees in Very High Cost Cases.

  3. First published.