The following is a brief advice for Solicitors when applying for interim payment of Experts subject to prior authorities under the LAA.
There is some confusion as to where the applications for interim payments should be sent once an expert has produced a report. This has led to significant delays and frustration for both solicitors and experts.
I have been in contact with the Legal Aid Agency and have been advised that their officers are also frustrated by complaints from solicitors experiencing delays and applications being rejected.
I am advised that although the LAA grant the initial prior authorities in respect of experts’ disbursements, they are only responsible for determining applications for interim payments in relation to those cases that are going to trial.
PoCA cases are different. As the substantive matter has been dealt with and the fees settled, PoCA matters are effectively new matters and fall into a bit of a grey area.
The LAA grant prior authorities for PoCA cases but all claims for payments, including interim payments for expert’s disbursements, should be sent to the National Taxing Team in Manchester, not the LAA in Nottingham. This is the main cause of delays as the applications are returned to the solicitors (usually after quite some time).
Once received by the NTT, preferably on-line but postal applications are accepted, the payments can be made within 48 hours.
It is therefore important that solicitors send the application for interim payment as soon as the expert’s invoice is received, to the NTT, who will then process the application and settle the invoice in a matter of days.
Incorrect submission of interim payments may lead to delays in your firm getting paid – please ask us for guidance if you are unsure of whom to send the claim to.
Contact Matrix Legal Services
For further information, please contact Stephanie Kenyon on +44 (0)7801 994459 or through your local office (see contact page).