Advocate Fee Payments – withdrawal of temporary changes to CPS fee scheme
23 September 2021
In April 2020, the CPS announced temporary adjustments to CPS fee schemes – Fees Bulletin 4 of 2020. I write now to confirm that, with effect from Monday 4 October 2021, these adjustments will end and we will revert to pre-Covid arrangements.
As I set out at the time, the changes introduced were made in recognition of the essential role that prosecution advocates perform in the CJS, and the financial impact of Covid-19. They were designed to:
- Provide payment for work done prior to the conclusion of a case where delays to proceedings were encountered
- Maintain timely payments for any work done throughout the affected period
- Take account of ongoing operational challenges for CPS and the Bar/chambers caused by remote working and possible reductions in workforce
- Be phased to provide a steady cash-flow while avoiding an immediate spike in invoices/payments which could delay processing.
While not underestimating the wider financial impact of the pandemic, I am pleased that the swift action taken by the CPS has delivered against its intended aims. Great credit for this must go to our CPS fees teams and chambers’ staff who adapted so well in what were difficult times for us all.
Upon implementing these changes, we gave a commitment that we would keep them in place until such time that they were no longer necessary. With Covid restrictions lifted and trial work having resumed, the throughput of crown court cases has increased markedly. This is reflected in our fee payment data which shows that both the value and volume of payments now significantly exceed pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, looking specifically at Upfront Covid Fees (UCF), 75% of UCF claims were paid in the first six months (May–Sep 2020) with a steep drop off in recent months.
That being the position, we are satisfied that the circumstances which necessitated these temporary changes have been reversed and that, to maintain the accurate and timely payment of fees, the time is now right to withdraw them. In doing so, I am conscious that the CPS fee schemes already incorporate payment trigger points prior to the conclusion of the case, allowing early payment in certain circumstances.
Thank you again for your positive engagement with us on this and other matters, and to those who directly contributed to the success of these measures.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER