Sadiq Khan – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Justice

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Sadiq Khan on 2014-05-02.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how much his Department has spent in each of the last four years on counsel fees related to inquests into the deaths of those in custody.

Mr Shailesh Vara

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is able to identify fees paid to counsel for inquest cases funded under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (“LASPO”) Act 2012 from April 2013 onwards. For the financial year 2013-14, the total value of counsel fees paid relating to inquests into the deaths of those in custody under the LASPO Act totalled £10,574.40.

This figure represents only those cases under the LASPO Act where payment has been made during 2013-14. Very few inquests that have been funded under the LASPO Act have been billed and paid in that period, as many are ongoing. Cases typically take over a year from approval of funding to payment of the final bill.

The total figure of £10,574.40 does not include information recorded in the LAA’s new costs management system, upon which a small pilot group of providers are currently processing their claims. The volume of claims being processed through this system represents around 1% of all claims.

The Legal Aid Agency does not hold the information requested centrally for cases funded under the Access to Justice Act 1999 (i.e. cases originally submitted prior to April 2013). Under the Access to Justice Act, ad hoc payments were made aggregating fees for the instructed solicitors and counsel on the case, and it is not possible to disaggregate the costs without checking each individual file.