WALES/ENGLAND – Prior authorities for experts in family cases

New guidance has been published online to help providers identify when they need to apply for prior authorities for experts in family cases.

 

Partnership working with rep bodies results in new guidance for providers

New guidance has been published online (see below) to help providers identify when they need to apply for prior authorities for experts in family cases.

It follows work with representative bodies to assist providers in identifying when to submit an application for prior authority and when it is not necessary to do so.

Contractual right

The LSC’s Standard Civil Contract states that there is a contractual right to seek or obtain prior authority only where:

  • the rate sought exceeds the codified rates introduced in October 2011, or
  • the item of costs is unusual in its nature or is unusually large.

The guidance includes:

  • examples of factors that may indicate exceptional circumstances apply
  • benchmarks of ‘unusual’ hours below which prior authority should not be sought
  • ranges of hours within which prior authority applications have typically been granted for psychologists and psychiatrists, which represent the most commonly used expert types
  • details of expert witness information required on detailed assessment.   

The guidance also confirms that prior authority is not necessary in relation to drug and alcohol tests – provided that the tests carried out reflect what has been directed in a court order.

Case-by-case assessments

‘Typical’ hours outlined in the guidance are not caps. They are intended to help providers make case-by-case assessments about when they can submit prior authority applications.

Prior authority itself is not a limit on the number of hours that may be carried out by an expert.

Additional expert work hours may be justified on assessment, at the end of the case, to the relevant assessing authority. This may be either the LSC or the court.

Further information

Justice website: Use of experts in legally aided cases

 

SOURCE: Ministry of Justice

Permanent link to this article: http://operationfatherhood.org/legal-aid/walesengland-prior-authorities-for-experts-in-family-cases/