TWO FIXED FEES: In order to claim two fixed fees, the rule of thumb is whether there are two distinct matters and two attendances. These cases are easily spotted if they would attract two LA orders or have two distinct police disposals. There is a great deal of confusion surrounding this issue. Hopefully, we can try to make the position clear. You can claim two bills for one job but it is now much more difficult than ever. Most firms are simply not claiming second bills, which is a shame as they are entitled to them. Basically, you now need to attend on two occasions to claim two bills unless there are two very obviously different matters being dealt with.
THE CRIME LINE VIEW: I am not wholly convinced by the Crime Line view on this but you can view it HERE.
THE RULES: Under the current system the basic rule is that if the matter would attract two distinct legal aid certificates then the matter should attract two bills. Two bills can be claimed where there were two distinct disposals. Where one matter is bailed and the other charged that attracts two bills but only if the bail is attended by the rep. In order to attend the firm will need to justify its attendance. If one of the disposals is NFA or a caution then it is still treated as one matter. If a client is charged and then interviewed for further matters (whether that is as a post charge interview or a whole new matter) then that is also a new bill and two attendances would not be required. These rule are not uniformly applied across England & Wales.
THE NEW RULES: The LSC guidance can be found here:
LSC Guidance Note 1
LSC Guidance Note 2
More than one Investigation 9.82 If a Client is subject to an Investigation for which a Police Station Telephone Advice Fixed Fee is claimable and a further Investigation(s) in relation to an arrest or warrant for breach of bail is commenced at the same time, you may make only one Claim for Police Station Telephone Advice in relation to all Investigations.
9.83 If you represent a Client at the Police Station, and that Client is under investigation for a number of different offences, the starting point is that you may only claim one Police Station Attendance Fixed Fee for that Investigation. You may claim more than one Fixed Fee in circumstances where your Client has genuinely separate legal problems requiring separate advice. A file note should set out your justification for this.
9.84 If a Client is bailed to return to a Police Station, that is a continuation of the same Investigation.
9.85 If a Client is charged with an offence, and bailed to return to the Police Station to be investigated for another offence, the attendance on that return date entitles you to claim another Fixed Fee.
9.86 If you advise more than one Client during the course of a single Investigation, one Police Station Attendance Fixed Fee may be claimed
You should also note:
10.68 Where the proceedings involve more than one offence, the definition of Case consists of three independent elements or tests. One or more of the following three tests will need to be satisfied to determine whether a Claim for a single Standard Fee, or a whether two or more Standard Fees may be claimed. If the answer to any of one of these tests is “yes”, then only one Standard Fee may be claimed:
(a) Are the charges or informations preferred or laid at the same time? (b) Are the charges or informations founded on the same facts? The test here is whether the charges have a common factual origin. © Are the charges or informations part of a series of offences? The test here is whether the offences exhibit some similar feature which would allow them to be described as a series of offences.
10.69 For the purposes of the definition of a series of offences, a breach of a community penalty or other court order must be treated as an offence. If the defendant is before the court for other reasons, then no separate Standard Fee payment will be made for breach proceedings, irrespective of whether there is any link between the breach proceedings and any other proceedings being heard at the same time. If breach proceedings are heard alone then they will attract a separate Standard Fee.
SUMMARY: Two bills can still be claimed but generally only if there are two attendances. The second needs to be justified. Normally that justification would be that the client is vulnerable or you could not get the determination of the case in advance from the police.
A word of warning: although you may think a second bill is appropriate your instructing solicitor may not actually claim it even though they agree with you in principal. Much of a firm's billing is down to a firm's relationship with the LSC. In any event the firm has only 48 hours to obtain the second DSCC reference number so you should always talk to your instructing solicitor and get them on board first.
Hopefully that answers your question in a clear as mud sort of way!
If you need any more help please feel free to mail me with the details of the case.