Legal Aid: 2 Counsel Events Non-Attendance Fees
There has been some confusion among solicitors and Counsel about when the ‘non-attendance’ fee of £900 can be claimed. Even in the old guidance it was clear that this only applied to hearings, and this is again made clear in the post June 2019 guidance. But it did not seem logical (or fair), as this would mean no preparation time at all was factored in to these types of events, if the solicitor did not attend.
In the past, sometimes unattended advocates meetings were claimed and paid at the £900 attendance fee, as on occasion an LAA case worker would indicate this could be claimed. We have now received clarification that indeed, it only applies to hearings. It is therefore essential to always dial in to an advocates meeting if at all possible, in order to obtain a full solicitor event fee of £1107 as opposed to zero! Similarly, once you have 2 Counsel authority, it is very sensible to attend (or send a clerk to) all hearings (provided this is justified) so as to obtain £1107 and not merely the £900 non-attendance fee.