Civil Finance Electronic Handbook

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The Civil Finance Electronic Handbook (CFE Handbook) was revised in 2020 to reflect updated guidance as a result of the transfer of the Court assessed claims process to the Legal Aid Agency, and changes in relation to payments on account. The handbook has however, always been the go-to guide in relation to LAA claims technical questions, and contains operational requirements and guidance to be used together with costs assessment guidance and relevant contracts in assisting caseworkers when dealing with assessment and processing of costs.

The costs assessment guidance has also been amended to account for the UK’s exit from the European Union. Subsequently, there are three versions of the costs assessment guidance. One of which is for use with the 2010 Standard Civil Contracts, one for use with the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Standard Civil Contracts and the third for the use with the 2018 Standard Civil Contract. 


Civil Finance Electronic Handbook: CCMS

The Client Cost Management System (CCMS) is an online system used for civil and family legal aid providers and other persons assigned to work on client cases. CCMS covers the process for certified civil and family legal aid work, from submitting legal aid applications to paying bills. The Legal Aid Agency recently announced changes to the rejection process that would result in more situations being dealt with as priority returns.  The CFE Handbook provides useful technical guidance for the submission of all electronic costs claims to CCMS, and should be utilised in the first instance to query any reasons for rejection of a CCMS submitted bill.


The Costs Assessment Process

The process of assessing costs i.e the quantification of amounts under costs orders made by the Courts and Tribunals (or by the LAA), regulates the fair and reasonable costs between clients and their respective lawyers. The criteria for assessing fair and reasonable legal costs may take into account compliance with relevant legislation and legal profession rules, costs disclosures made, and relevant advertisements made regarding the law practice’s costs or skills. However, it should be noted that costs assessment under LAA funded work are much more generous than those than would be permitted inter-partes, in that all work will be funded so long as it is reasonable (such as funding work, considering letters in and other work which would not be permitted inter-partes).


Costs Protection under Legal Aid

Costs protection applies to limited family proceedings which permit costs orders to be covered by public funds in certain circumstances. Generally speaking, costs orders cannot be enforced against legal aid clients unless they have recouped an award of money as part of the proceedings.


How Can ARC Costs Assist with LAA Costs Claims?

The ARC Costs team are a highly experienced team of Costs Lawyers and Costs Draftsman. We regularly assist in preparing and processing legal aid costs claims on CCMS (we typically recover 100% of what is claimed), as well as quantifying and negotiating inter-partes costs in legally aid funded cases. We are always happy to help with costs challenges/queries and can provide information on dealing with inter-partes costs in legal aid matters.

We can be contacted via email at, or by telephone on 01204 397302. For more information on legal costs, please find out more about our speciality areas of expertise and our services on our legal costs page, as well as seeing working examples of our work on the case studies page.

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