The ACL Legal Aid Group (LAG) represents the interests of ACL members who provide services in legally aided costs and costs incurred under legal aid payable by another party.

About the ACL Legal Aid Group

The ACL Legal Aid Group (LAG) is the special interest group for ACL members who provide services in legally aided costs and costs incurred under legal aid payable by another party. It both represents the interests of those Costs Lawyers and provides support and assistance to them.

Representative Work

The LAG is actively involved in representing members’ interests to and working with the Legal Aid Agency. In particular, the LAG has played a significant role in the development of the new online Client and Costs Management System, providing feedback and suggestions for improvements to the system and relaying further information on the system to Costs Lawyers.

Civil Contract Consultative Group (CCCG)

The LAG became a member of the LAA Civil Contract Consultative Group (CCCG) in May 2014 and attends bi-monthly meetings with other representative bodies including the Bar Council and the Law Society.  

The CCCG was established in April 2008 after the Legal Services Commission (predecessor to the Legal Aid Agency), the Law Society and the Ministry of Justice agreed a way forward following the Court of Appeal’s judgment in 2007 on the Unified Contract. This was to establish a consultative group to review the fee schemes and other provisions for new contracts in 2010. Meaning collaborative working and improved dialogue between the LSC (now LAA) and providers’ involvement in reviewing fee schemes etc. The current Terms of Reference of the CCCG and list of members can be found here.

The LAG also became a member of the Specialist Practitioner Group (SPG) in July 2014, a group composed of the representative bodies of the legal profession and organisations representing practitioners in specific areas law relevant to legal aid, social welfare and family law provision, currently all of whom are members of the CCCG. The SPG meets two every two months, two weeks before CCCG meetings to, among other things, discuss items for inclusion on the agenda for the CCCG meetings with the LAA. The meetings are hosted and chaired by The Law Society. The Terms of Reference of the SPG can be found here

Supportive Work

The LAG is a collaborative group that provides support and training in relation to the various funding schemes that have developed since the introduction of the Legal Aid Act 1988.

The LAG provides support in various ways including:

  • Operating a discussion forum
  • Organising regular events
  • Maintaining a knowledge hub

LAG members also enjoy affiliate membership of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group.

Structure of the LAG

The affairs of the LAG are administrated by the Executive Committee consisting of up to six LAG members, elected annually. There are two officer members of the committee, chair and secretary, who are elected by the committee at the first committee meeting.

Chair and Policy: Paul Seddon

Paul is the owner of Seddon Costing Services based in South East Essex. He has worked in legal services for over 15 years and practised costs law for over a decade.  He spent many years working in-house at law firms in London, running legal accounts before training as a law costs draftsman. 

Paul is known for his expertise in legal aid, and he can often be found representing the ACL at the Ministry of Justice and at the Law Society attending consultative group meetings on civil legal aid. On behalf of the ACL LAG he drafted the ‘Claiming enhancements for civil (non-family) legal aid work: Guidance for the Bar’ at the request of the Bar Council, and has also presented at the Housing Law Practitioner’s Group Conference 2014. Paul is also the author of the ACL Report on the LAA’s Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) released in May 2015.

Information Officer: Sam Bagnall

Sam is a Trainee Costs Lawyer and is based in Manchester. She began working in costs in 2009 and she trained with a national firm of Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers. She is now the Managing Director of SB Costs. Sam’s broad costs law practice is focussed on Legal Aid work and she acts as a consultant to a number of firms of Costs Lawyers and Costs Solicitors in relation to their Legal Aid work.

Committee Secretary: Rachel Perkins

Rachel is a Costs Lawyer and managing director of Law Costs Drafting Ltd, based in Mid-Essex. She has worked in legal costs since 1991 and practised costs law since 2000.  She became an Associate Member of the Association in 2007, a Fellow in 2009 and Costs Lawyer in 2011.  Rachel has experience of most types of legal costs and specialises in Legal Aid work, including the preparation of High Costs Cases, both CCFS and 2 Counsel case plans.

Finance Officer: Bob Baker

Bob has been involved in the legal profession since 1976 as a Legal Executive specialising in high value personal injury and clinical negligence claims and has experience in most areas of practice especially in legal aid work. He has worked in costs since 1988 when he set up his costs business in Cornwall expanding into West Yorkshire in 1999.  As an ACL member latterly a Fellow he became a Costs Lawyer in 2008.  For many years he has been a tutor/mentor for ACL students taking the old and new courses.   His practice is in all areas of the country in legal aid and non-legal aid cases and he specialises in complex high cost cases, actions against the police and historical sexual abuse as well as public law family work.

Hobbies and interests include food, good wine and gardening.

Policy Officer:  Francesca Rigo

Fran is Trainee Costs Lawyer and works in-house at a Law Firm based in London. Fran qualified as a Solicitor in November 2015. She assisted in the in-house costs department before qualifying as a Solicitor and decided to embark on the ACL course in September 2015. Fran deals mainly with Family Legal Aid work.

Policy and PR Officer: Steve Jepson

Steve is a Costs Lawyer and Chartered Legal Executive based in the Midlands and has worked in the legal profession since 1988. Initially, as a Legal Executive specialising in personal injury and clinical negligence claims for a large Trade Union firm and has extensive knowledge and experience in most areas of legal practice to include COP matters and legal aid work, especially Criminal. Having worked in costs since 1995 he set up his own costs practice in 1998 and returned to employee status in 2013. He has maintained an active interest in the ACL for many years firstly as an ACL member, progressing to a Fellow and subsequently became a Costs Lawyer.  During this time he has been a tutor/mentor for ACL students and has been a member of various working parties.   He was involved in the pilot scheme for Budgeting in 2010 and specialises in complex high cost cases, preparing case plans and has worked on highly sensitive criminal matters such as child abuse and sex rings. Hobbies and interests include good wholesome food, fine ales, music and all things Cornwall.

Membership

Membership of the LAG is free and is open to all ACL members including Trainee Costs Lawyers. To join, simply complete the Legal Aid Group Membership Application Form.

LAG Constitution

The ACL Legal Aid Group constitution can be found here .

LAG Twitter

Follow the ACL Legal Aid Group on Twitter to find out more.