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AGFS consultation paper

6 January 2017

The MoJ has published a consultation paper on a new Advocate Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS). The deadline for responses is 2 March. We encourage all our members to read and respond to this consultation, particularly those who undertake advocacy - the proposals will have a significant impact on fees paid for this work.

We also encourage you to read the impact assessment, which explains the impact of the new AGFS on different types of advocate.

Summary of AGFS proposals

  • The new scheme is intended to be cost neutral and to reduce reliance on pages of prosecution evidence (PPE).
  • A new offence classification, featuring 16 offence categories, is designed to reflect the average amount of work undertaken in a typical case. 
  • 42 separate bands will reflect the severity of the offence.
  • The new fee contains only two elements:
    - ‘Basic’ fee, based on offence category, band and type of advocate
    - Daily attendance fee for each trial day after the first, based on offence category, band and type of advocate. 
  • Some elements of the fee are ‘unbundled’, with fixed fees for specific elements of a case (for example, separate fees for up to six standard appearances).
  • The cracked trial fee is to be paid once a certificate of trial readiness has been filed.
  • Uplifts for evidence and witnesses are removed.

Law Society initial view

The Law Society has long argued that the current graduated fee schemes are no longer fit for purpose. We were involved in the working group to develop the alternative AGFS since the time of its inception in 2015. We were obliged to withdraw from the group in December 2016 due to concerns about the potential impact of the scheme and a moratorium on sharing key documents internally.

Key concerns of the Law Society include:

  • The scheme appears to advantage QCs at the expense of junior barristers and solicitor advocates.
  • For example, paragraph 50 of the impact assessment states that, 'total expenditure on self-employed QCs would increase by around 10 per cent under the proposed scheme'.
  • The requirement to have filed a certificate of readiness before a cracked trial fee will be paid goes against the principles of Better Case Management (BCM) and incentivising early guilty pleas.
  • Paying a fee per appearance contradicts the principle of reducing unnecessary appearances.

See the consultation paper, impact assessment and related documents  

Read the Law Society press release


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