Human Rights Legal Aid Costs

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Human Rights Act Claims

The Human Rights Act 1998 is a piece of legislation that incorporates the rights and freedoms outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law. This legislation allows individuals to bring claims based on alleged violations of their human rights in domestic courts.

The Human Rights Act protects a range of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to life, freedom from torture or inhuman treatment, right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, and many others.

Claims under the Human Rights Act are part of public law and can be brought against “public authorities,” which includes not only government bodies but also entities carrying out functions of a public nature. This can include local authorities, healthcare providers, and some private organisations.

If a court finds that a public authority has violated a person’s human rights, it can issue a range of remedies. This may include a declaration of incompatibility (stating that the law or action is incompatible with the ECHR), an injunction to stop a particular action, or an award of damages.

Section 6 of the Human Rights Act requires public authorities to act in a way that is compatible with the rights set out in the ECHR. If they fail to do so, a person can bring a claim for a breach of their human rights.

Section 7 allows a person who believes their human rights have been violated to bring a claim in court. The court can grant appropriate relief if it finds a breach.

To bring a claim, the person must be a “victim” of the alleged human rights violation. This means they must be directly affected by the actions or decisions of the public authority.

When considering claims, courts will often apply a proportionality test. This means assessing whether the interference with an individual’s rights is proportionate to the legitimate aim being pursued.

The Human Rights Act works in conjunction with other areas of law. For example, it can be invoked alongside claims for judicial review or in cases involving discrimination or criminal law.


Human Rights & Legal Aid

In England and Wales, Legal Aid is available for a range of civil cases, including Human Rights Act claims.

Legal aid is a government-funded scheme designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who cannot afford to pay for legal advice or representation.

To qualify for human rights legal aid funding, the applicant must meet certain eligibility criteria, including a means test (to assess their financial situation) and a merits test (to evaluate the strength and importance of the case). The case must also involve a matter that falls within the scope of legal aid funding.


Human Rights Legal Aid Costs

In a human rights case in England and Wales, various types of costs may be incurred, both for the Claimant and the Defendant. Human rights legal aid costs are likely to include solicitor fees, Court fees, expert witness fees, and Counsel fees.  In view of the complexity of these cases, even though legal aid rates are considerably below private legal rates, costs can become significant.

Solicitors and law firms may seek to recover their costs for a Human Rights Act case from the Legal Aid Agency when they have provided legal services to clients who were funded through legal aid, and the claim is either unsuccessful, or results in no order for inter-partes being obtained. This process involves requesting reimbursement for the costs incurred while representing clients who received legal aid for their cases.

In order to recover these costs, the Solicitor must quantify their costs and submit either a Payments on Account (POAs) to obtain costs while the case is proceeding, and on conclusion an interim (for one of several aspects) or final bill for aspects of work completed.

It is worth noting that the Legal Aid Agency has specific rules that must be adhered to when submitting bills for assessment, and our Costs Draftsmen can assist you with this to ensure everything is submitted correctly and to maximise your costs recovery.

When bills are submitted to the Legal Aid Agency, they will be checked to ensure all the guidelines have been complied with. Once accepted, it is typical for the legal aid agency to request evidence in support of the work carried out by the solicitor, such as supporting court documents and invoices, before paying the solicitor for their work.  If a bill is found to be unsatisfactory or non-compliant, it will be rejected and this will count against the Solicitor’s KPIs for their LAA contract.

Some solicitors may be paid for 100% of their work completed; however, some reductions may also be applied if the LAA deem the amounts being claimed as incorrect or unreasonable.

In some circumstances, a Judge may award an inter partes costs order, even when a case has been funded by Legal Aid.

This essentially means that one party is awarded to claim their costs from their opponent, generally, the winning party claiming against the losing party.

When this happens, it is expected that the receiving party first try and claim their costs from the paying party prior to seeking cost recovery from the legal aid agency.

The indemnity principle does not apply in respect of hourly rates in publicly funded cases, and higher than legal aid rates are often claimed from a Paying Party.


How can ARC costs Assist?

Our team of experienced Law Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers at ARC Costs regularly assist in all types of costs claims, including human rights legal aid costs. We work with both law firms and legally qualified individuals with their costs recovery from the LAA.

Through our specialised cost assessment service, we assist clients in optimising their reclaimed legal expenses, all the whilst delivering proficient legal guidance and lessening the possibility of denied claims by the Legal Aid Agency.

We frequently employ the CCMS system for the submission of legal aid cost claims and manage all related administrative tasks on behalf of our clients. This approach not only releases fee earners from administrative burdens but also guarantees the swift and effective retrieval of your highest potential legal aid fees.

To find out more about how we can provide you with assistance, please get in touch with us at 01204 397302 or email our team of experts at Alternatively, please use our free chat facility to speak to an expert directly.

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01204 397302

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