For those of you who need a bit of cheering up...And for those of you who were wondering whether the Bundles PD adopted an overcomplicated staged approach simply in order to tip you over the brink - no, there was method in it :
The Government has now published its response to its earlier consultation entitled "Court Bundles - Proposed changes to the Legal aid Family Advocacy Scheme". The response paper can be found here. The Statutory Instrument making amendments to the Family Advocacy Scheme (FAS), will be laid on 3 June.
The Government intends to proceed with the proposal to retain the current bundle bolt-on fee scheme framework but link payment to the content and size of the Advocate's bundle. In this context, the Advocate's bundle would only consist of those served documents that are relevant and necessary to the case. As now, notes of contact visits are not expected to be included in the Advocate's bundle unless the court has ordered that they be included in the court bundle for a specific hearing.
Changes to Practice Direction 27A, which introduce the maximum 350 page limit on the size of a court bundle, will come into force on 31 July. As a result, the Government will be making consequential changes to the FAS to ensure that bolt-on fees to advocates continue to be paid but payment will be made on the basis of the size of the Advocate's bundle rather than the size of the court bundle. The level of bolt-on fees payable will remain at the same level as those payable now.
In short, advocates will still get paid for what they've read even if the judge hasn't read it. The longer explanation is at pa 2.4 of the consultation response if you haven't got the stomach to read the whole thing (really lazy people who can't be bothered to click on the link above and find pa 2.4 can see below).
You see, you feel better already don't you?
pa 2.4 to consultation response :
"Having considered all the responses to the consultation, the Government has decided to retain the current bundle bolt-on fee structure, but link payment to the size and content of the Advocate’s bundle. The Advocate’s bundle will be limited to those served documents which are relevant and necessary to the case. As now, notes of contact visits may not be included in the Advocate’s bundle for legal aid purposes unless the judge or person before whom proceedings are heard authorises their inclusion in the court bundle. The advocate in seeking to claim a bundle bolt-on fee payment will be required to submit, with the Advocate’s Attendance Form, the agreed paginated list of documents served agreed with the other parties which they consider are relevant and necessary to the case. The advocate would also be expected to provide a written explanation of why any documents included in the paginated list of documents were relevant and necessary to the case. The agreed paginated list, along with the explanation of why documents are included, would be submitted to the court at the hearing along with the Advocate’s Attendance Form for certification by the court. The court would base their certification upon the agreed paginated list of documents served but would be able to review the explanation provided if they considered it appropriate to do so."