LAA – Local travel change approaching – can you justify your claims?

LAA – Local travel change approaching – can you justify your claims?

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In February 2014, the Legal Aid Agency released a bulletin for their change in approach in assessing local travel within ten miles, stating that any such claims will generally not be allowed. A further update was released in May 2014, after a number of requests from representatives of solicitors and counsel, who needed time to reconsider their positions and bring themselves up to date with the LAA guidance. This update confirmed an extension of the deadline for when local mileage claims will be refused should they not have any justification for including them in a claim.

The extension of the deadline was to any funding certificates issued from 1st September 2014. Prior to this, any appeals against rejected local travel would be allowed provided they were in time.

The latest bulletin in August 2014 from the LAA is a reminder of the impending change of approach after allowing the additional time for solicitors to reconsider their travel practices. Hereafter, any travel claims of within a ten mile radius will not be allowed. The LAA guidance refers to Paragraph 5.22(3) of the Practice Direction to Rule 47.6 CPR (Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2013) and states that any justification for claiming local travel must be included with the travel claim to be assessed.

However what constitutes a justifiable reason for local travel has not been included in the LAA’s guidance, save for one example being poor public transport. Unfortunately, the unanswered question is, what exactly defines poor public transport? It may well be that the reasons given in the intervening period since May 2014 will no longer be accepted, and so it is up to fee earners to ensure they are as detailed as possible in their reasons for continuing to include local travel claims.

The LAA local travel bulletins can be found below:

February 2014

May 2014

August 2014