Post by Colin Henderson on Oct 17, 2015 12:15:36 GMT
For once a piece of good news that is a big deal for housing bods and others doing emergency legal aid.
The present position is that your emergency certificate is for eight weeks and you DO NOT get paid for any work done after that, so (as often happens) if your client is too confused/ill/drunk/drugged/hungry/homeless to comply with requests for means verification (bank statements etc) you have to stop work, inform the court, miss deadlines for evidence to be filed, risk a strike-out of defence, etc, etc.
From the LAA's side it's a fantastic way of making sure those in most need of legal help don't get it, sorry, ensuring those who are not eligible do not abuse public funds (you know, all those rich but homeless people).
In the past I just carried on working and invoked a Point of Principle to get paid on the interim work when the substantive certificate came through. I failed - they even changed the PoP manual to ensure no-one else tried it. (see my Zombie blog of 2014 for full details)
Nowadays I email them with requests to extend the emergency; sometimes they agree, sometimes they don't - my last request has simply been ignored and I've had to settle the case unpaid.
Yesterday, the LAA informed the representative bodies that it would be changing its approach to assessment of emergency certificates immediately. As far as we are aware they have not made a public announcement yet. Usually, such lack of notice would attract criticism; but perhaps practitioners should hold fire on this occasion.
First, because the issue relates to the situation where an emergency certificate expires before a substantive is issued. As emergency certificates last for eight weeks, the change will not affect people immediately. Second, because the change is an improvement for practitioners.
Up to the change, if a substantive certificate followed seamlessly with no break in time, the limitation on the substantive would also apply to the period covered by the emergency certificate (as per point of principle 58). However, if there was a break between the two, work in the intervening period would not be covered and the limitations to each would be applied separately.
From 13 October, the LAA said it will treat work done in any intervening period as being conducted ‘at risk’, and will be paid for if the substantive certificate covers all the work undertaken.