Legal aid is a niche area of legal costs that is commonly being avoided by other consultancies. At Aestima, we have law costs consultants with the experience and knowledge to ensure that maximum profits are gained, thanks to our detailed understanding of the regulations. Our submissions pass legal aid scrutiny, and our ongoing training in CCMS and HCCP saves time for our clients and keeps them well within strict deadlines.
Preparing Bills of Costs
Due to complex rules and regulations relevant to preparing a legal aid bill of costs, many law costs consultancies are now actively avoiding involvement. At Aestima our law costs consultants are incredibly knowledgeable on this specialist area, regularly undertaking research and training courses to keep fully up to date. This knowledge allows us to ensure complete accuracy, and in turn an immediate acceptance of the claim for costs by the Legal Aid Agency.
Where appropriate, our team is also prepared to apply enhancements that increase the profit costs, though never in a situation that might affect our clients’ relationship with the agency. We are fully aware of the limited hourly rates recoverable and work within those parameters to maximise profit for the instructing solicitor. Throughout the process we relieve the burden of preparation and allow our clients to concentrate on their work.
Preparing Legal Aid Agency Claim Forms
Whereas some law costs consultancies are moving away from legal aid cases, Aestima is actively increasing its team and developing their understanding. This allows an instructing solicitor to pass on instructions in the full knowledge that the claims prepared will pass Legal Aid Agency scrutiny. By avoiding rejection, there will be no impact on key performance indicators or contracts.
We also set our fees at prescribed hourly rates, ensuring the profit margin remains in the instructing solicitor’s favour. We will compile a letter of advice when the claim forms are returned to you, which will determine if there are any amendments needed before submission. This allows for a swift turnaround and for fees to be paid expeditiously, meaning less disruption to cash flow.
Costs and Case Management System (CCMS)
Aestima has a dedicated team who are fully trained and conversant with the expectations of the Legal Aid Agency’s CCMS, and who are continually expanding their knowledge of this niche area through ongoing training courses.
The CCMS is presented as efficient and user friendly, but is time-consuming to utilise. Our understanding of the system means we can free up more fee earner time for you, as well as help to speed up cash flow. We work with clients to ensure claims are accurate, so as to be immediately accepted by the Legal Aid Agency. We are able to assist remotely or in-house as required.
High Costs Case Plans (HCCP)
Our team of law costs consultants have extensive experience in preparing HCCP’s and work well within the strict deadlines set by the Legal Aid Agency. The team’s knowledge of this niche area ensures that the instructing solicitor is never subject to penalties and that estimated costs are presented in the prescribed format.
By working with Aestima, there is an increased likelihood that the maximum estimated costs will be approved by the Legal Aid Agency. The swift turnaround we ensure also prevents the ongoing conduct of the case being hampered by an unapproved plan.
One of our clients needed a VHCC case plan to be prepared urgently within the timescale set by the Legal Aid Agency. The claim was prepared in the usual way in the form of a Claim 1. Unfortunately the Legal Aid Agency then decided the claim had to be submitted under the CCMS, with the information transferred on to the Legal Aid Agency’s system. After some negotiation with the Legal Aid Agency, extended time was given for the law costs consultant to deal with the additional work necessary.
When preparing the costs on the CCMS, we encountered some technical issues that required investigation. These issues were resolved quickly so that it would not impact on the client’s cash flow. The experience gained from the difficulties of this particular case have enhanced our understanding of the Legal aid Agency’s CCMS billing procedure which assists us going forward.