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The costs allowance ‘revolution’ in proceedings for financial relief

Date:6 DEC 2012

Andrew Commins

Barrister St John's Chambers Bristol:

Buried deep in The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) are provisions that will change the way practitioners approach costs allowances as inherent components of claims for 'maintenance' pending suit. LASPO rids the law of costs allowances and introduces the replacement 'order for payment in respect of legal services'. LASPO creates an explicit statutory regime governing the payment by one party to enable another to fund legal advice and representation in matrimonial and civil partnership proceedings. Some provisions codify the judicial guidance that has developed in relation to claims for costs allowances while LASPO also introduces a new set of factors to guide the court's discretionary exercise which increase the focus on the applicant's conduct. The relevant sections of LASPO are due to come into force in April 2013. This article considers the current law applicable to a claim for a costs allowance as part of a maintenance pending suit application and highlights the significant changes introduced by LASPO.

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