VHCC Rates: Very High Costs Cases


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What is a VHCC?

The Very High Costs Cases (VHCC) Scheme was jointly initiated by the CPS, Bar Council, and the Legal Aid Agency (previously known as the Legal Services Commission) in England and Wales. Its main purpose was to oversee and audit expenses in particularly costly and intricate cases.

A case is designated as a VHCC when its expenses surpass £25,000, including profit costs, Counsel fees and disbursements (but not VAT). The VHCC categorisation can apply to a range of civil matters, such as those related to education, clinical malpractice, criminal law, prison law, and high expenditure family matters.

For family cases recognised as VHCCs, the handling of the case may fall under either the VHCC family team or the Exceptional and Complex Case Team. Single, King’s Counsel, two counsel, or advocate cases are managed by the former, while the latter oversees prior authority requests for King’s Counsel/two counsel cases as well as all Court of Protection cases, offering technical support to the VHCC team in the process.

Whilst costs and work undertaken on a case play a significant role, they aren’t the only criteria for VHCC designation. In criminal cases, a trial projected to last between 40 and 60 days will be regarded as a VHCC. Once a criminal case receives VHCC status, it’s paired with an Individual Case Contract.


VHCC Rates

The rates that apply very much depend upon the type of case on which VHCC status is requested.

Care proceedings, as well as many Other Public Law type proceedings fall under an Events type model, whereby the Solicitor recovers a fixed fee per Event (hearing day or advocates meeting).  Counsel continues to recover FAS unless the matter is listed for a Final Hearing/Finding of Fact Hearing for 10+ days, or if the matter is authorised as a dual Counsel/King’s Counsel matter.  If FAS does not apply, then Counsel will claim fixed Event fees per hearing.

The exact Event fees for Solicitor and Counsel depend upon the type of proceedings, number of hearing dates, and whether the matter is proceeding in the Family or High Court.

Very High Cost Cases (VHCC) rates in family matters are generally costed on an hourly rate basis, and require the traditional High Costs Case Plan (HCCP) format to be submitted to the LAA.  Specific hourly rates are set by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for solicitors and advocates dependant upon the aspect of work being completed, and these rates are generally the same for an exceptional claim for costs, and a VHCC.

As hourly rates in VHCC cases vary depending on the case type, Court location and the nature of work carried out, it is recommended that the VHCC rates calculator be utilised to check the rates as found on the Government’s website.


VHCC Rates and Costs Assessments

When evaluating the legal expenses associated with VHCCs, there are several assessment techniques available.

In Care Case Fee Schemes where Events apply, an Events case plan should be completed and submitted, either as an interim (to obtain access to cashflow) or final case plan, in order to obtain agreement to an increase costs limitation. 

As stipulated above, the choice of Events scheme for a particular care/public law case is influenced by factors like whether it’s being managed by a single solicitor advocate, a duo of council members, solicitor advocates, or a Leading Counsel.

In family type matters, comprehensive case plans detailing all costs must be formulated on an hourly rates basis. In such instances, the case must be registered as a VHCC and a detailed case plan submitted.  This will then be considered by the LAA to ensure they consider the case to be extraordinary and warrant further funding, and they will then either accept the case plan as provided, or provide a counter offer for the work to be done/expenses to be done. 

In the case of hourly rates VHCCs, it can very much turn into a negotiation with the LAA, whereas with an Events case plan, the costs are fixed by the number of Events.


How can ARC Costs Assist?

The ARC team of knowledgeable Costs Lawyers and Legal Aid Costs Draftsmen at ARC Costs can assist clients with Very High Cost Cases (VHCC) and provide VHCC rates guidance.

In legal aid funded matters, we can produce the required costing instruments and obtain an assessment of your legally aided costs in any concluded matters. Generally, we recover 90%+ of the amounts claimed in any costs assessment with the LAA.

In respect of VHCCs, the team at ARC Costs can assist with the quantification of your costs incurred to date, as well as the formulation of a case plan, and management of the same with the LAA on CCMS in order to obtain you an increased interim costs limitation on your case to ensure access to ongoing funds to run the matter.  We also assist in submitting final bills on any VHCC matter, either for an Events case plan or for the various stages of any hourly rates VHCC.

To find out more about how we can provide you with assistance, please contact us at 012014 397302 or email one of our expert team on info@arccosts.co.uk.  Alternatively, please use our free chat facility to speak to an expert directly regarding Very High Cost Cases (VHCC) guidance.

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