In June 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) unexpectedly decided to transfer civil-assessed costs claims worth between £2,500 and £25,000 from the courts to its inhouse team.

There was consultation on amendments to the cost assessment guidance, but not on the decision itself. The LAA said the change would mean faster payments in both the long and short term, given the lockdown had left many providers without payment for cases because of court closures.

Every practitioner wants to be paid faster, of course; but trust between the LAA and the profession is not at its highest. This sudden move provoked significant objections from solicitors, barristers and costs lawyers, so much so that ...

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