Guidance

VHCC cases

How to apply to the Criminal Cases Unit for a Very High Cost Case (VHCC) contract.

When you think a crime case is likely to last for 40 days or more at trial, fill in and send a VHCC notification request form (MS Word Document, 45.9KB) to the Criminal Cases Unit (CCU)

Do this within 5 working days of:

  • recognising the case as high cost
  • the Plea and Case Management Hearing

How a VHCC works:

  • once the case has been designated a very high cost case (VHCC), there is no opt-out for suppliers from the contracting system
  • where a case is designated as a VHCC, it will be conducted by accredited VHCC providers, apart from in exceptional circumstances
  • for each VHCC, the defence team (solicitor and advocate) will be assigned a dedicated case manager from the high cost crime team
  • it’s the case manager’s role to negotiate with solicitors and advocates what work they’ll do over the next 3 months
  • payment is made at the end of each 3 month period, as long as the work falls within the tasks and hours agreed in advance

You might need further guidance on high cost case arrangements and contract documents for organisations and self-employed advocates. Further guidance on high cost case arrangements and contract documents for organisations and self-employed advocates is available.

VHCC accreditation

Under the current VHCC arrangements, organisations and self-employed advocates wishing to work on crime cases classified as VHCCs have to obtain the VHCC accreditation.

To do so, they must meet the eligibility criteria set out at Annex A of the 2013 VHCC arrangements .

How to apply

If your firm wants to obtain VHCC accreditation, submit an application using our e-accreditation system. You can apply any time.

For further help, see the information for applicants (PDF, 360KB, 38 pages)

Self-employed advocates due to be instructed on VHCCs (ie cases with trial estimates over 60 days) will be invited to apply when appropriate.

For further help, see the information for self-employed advocates (PDF, 305KB, 29 pages)

Individual criminal case contract (ICC)

These documents set out the arrangements and rules for carrying out work on all cases where:

  • the VHCC definition is satisfied
  • LAA believes the trial is likely to last for less than 60 days

These cases are to be paid at the rates in the Litigators’ Graduated Fee Scheme (LGFS) not high cost rates.

Individual Criminal Case (ICC) contract for signature 2013 (PDF, 166KB, 6 pages)

Individual Criminal Case (ICC) specification 2013 (PDF, 130KB, 15 pages)

Fixed Fee Offer contracts

Advocates instructed in criminal Very High Cost Cases (VHCCs) are currently paid in accordance with Interim Fixed Fee Offer contracts (IFFOs).

Once contracted as a VHCC the VHCC Case Managers in the Criminal Cases Unit will gather information about the type of case, volume of material and likely trial length from practitioners in the case and the prosecution if appropriate.

Once validated, the VHCC Case Managers are able to draft a VHCC Substantive IFFO contract for the advocate/s representing their defendant.

Upon receipt of a signed contract the Case Manager will pay the 1st Instalment. If the trial of the defendant(s) has not started within 6 months of the contract being signed, Counsel is entitled to claim an interim 2nd Instalment payment equating to 50% of the 2nd Instalment. When the trial commences, either the balance of the 2nd Instalment or the full 2nd Instalment can be paid. The 3rd Instalment becomes due at the conclusion of the trial.

Copy of IFFO Model for HCC 20160921 (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 72.2KB)

Interim Fixed Fee Offer Scheme explanatory note (PDF, 370KB, 2 pages)

How to appeal a VHCC decision

LAA case manager and the defence team negotiate hours for each stage of the case in advance. If they can’t reach agreement on hours for a specific task, there’s a right of appeal.

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

Appeals: crime high cost cases covers VHCC panel arrangements and decisions (January 2014).

Livenote for VHCC contracts

Livenote is a real time court transcription service provided by Merrill Legal Solutions.

The cost is divided equally amongst the court, prosecution and defence.

To get funding for the defence share of the cost, your defence team must send a Livenote application form (MS Word Document, 122KB) in an email to the Criminal Cases Unit: ccu@legalaid.gsi.gov.uk

Contact details

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

DX 745810, Liverpool 35

Email: ccu@legalaid.gsi.gov.uk

Phone (Liverpool): 0151 235 6924

Published 1 June 2014
Last updated 13 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Publication of the calculator and explanatory note for criminal advocates’ fees in Very High Cost Cases.
  2. First published.