SLAB: Lawyers ‘positive’ about interim fee arrangements
General awareness of the interim fee arrangements regime for legal aid is “very high” and lawyers are positive about it, according to the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB).
SLAB’s findings come from a small piece of research on the use of the Covid-19 related interim fee arrangements.
Its most recent figures show that approximately 30 per cent of active solemn criminal legal aid firms and 40 per cent of active civil legal aid firms have made interim fee claims.
The purpose of the research was to explore the take up of interim fees and to identify whether there is more it can do to assist solicitors to access work in progress payments now.
SLAB interviewed 21 people in the course of this research – mostly solicitors but also administrative staff involved in decision making on submitting accounts.
Its research found that general awareness of the interim fee arrangements was very high, and the majority of respondents were positive about them, regardless of whether they had used them themselves.
For almost all respondents the decision to limit use of the expanded interim fee arrangements was based on factors such as management of cash flow and time.
A number of the solemn legal aid solicitors had made the decision to use summary legal aid interim fee provisions in preference to the solemn ones.
Some respondents mentioned other sources of financial support, from central or local government, as a factor in deciding to limit their use of the interim fee provisions.