The Legal Services Commission recently obtained judgment [ LSC v Loomba and others  EWHC 29 (QB)] in relation to the recovery of payments on account made under the Legal Aid Act 1988
The case involved a test case. All claims related to money that the LSC had paid on account to the solicitors in relation to civil cases conducted by them. The solicitors had not rendered final bills. The LSC made nil assessments and then sought to recoup all of the payments on account. The Commission’s case, was that the claims were authorised by law. Whilst conceding that there were no express legislative power to make the claims, the LSC argument raised various issues of statutory interpretation or, in the alternative other claims were made including restitution. The solicitors case was that the LSC did not have the power to carry out nil assessments and that, in doing so, the LSC had acted unlawfully or had breached their human rights.
Cranston J found that the LSC was entitled to recoup the payments
This case highlights the need for solicitors to report properly to the LSC, especially when a practice is being wound up.