Following last week’s statement from Verbatim Reporters writers stating that the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) had withdrawn its travel and mileage costs, to the detriment of its business, SLAB has responded that there is no legislative provision for these fees and that they will be brought into line with those of solicitors.
SLAB stated that shorthand writers’ fees for carrying out their duties are stipulated by an Act of Sederunt. There are separate instruments for the Court of Session and Sheriff Court. The instruments do not make provision for travel expenses.
SLAB has established arrangements in relation to travel costs for solicitors and other parties, such as experts, professionals and interpreters.
With effect from 27 June 2016, similar arrangements, outlined as follows, will be applied in relation to shorthand writers’ costs.
Any invoices received on or after that date will be assessed in accordance with the arrangements. Invoices will be assessed as follows:
- Time spent in the performance of the duties of shorthand writer (including waiting but excluding the lunch period) during business hours of the court (“attendance time”) will be paid providing the rate claimed does not exceed the prescribed rate.
- Travel time shall be paid at half the attendance rate payable.
- Reasonably incurred travel outlays for cost effective travel are paid. Public transport should be used unless unreasonable or impracticable. Mileage allowance of £0.40 will be paid where travel by car is undertaken in situations where public transport is not reasonable or practicable.
- ubsistence at civil service class two rates (or such reasonable equivalent as may be adopted) shall be payable if reasonably incurred in line with the instruments.
SLAB added that solicitors instructing shorthand writer services should make clear that any invoices should provide a breakdown (and in multi-day cases/invoices, day by day) of each of the components of attendance time i.e. court, waiting, lunch period, travel time, travel outlays, and subsistence outlays.