The Pre-Application Protocol makes it clear that mediation providers can charge for carrying out MIAMs. However, this is subject to certain limitations, depending on whether you see someone who is eligible for public funding. These limitations are outlined below, but if you are unclear about the implications please contact your member organisation.
If you hold an existing contract with the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) and one or both clients qualify for public funding you will be paid by the LAA as usual.
Even if you don’t hold a contract with the LAA there is still a duty to assess clients for eligibility for public funding. If a client is eligible you may wish to them to the nearest mediation service that holds a contract, rather than embark further on a MIAM for which you may not be able to charge or can only partially charge for (where only one client is eligible for public funding). It may also mean that any potential client you have seen will need to attend another MIAM with a suitably recognised mediator or contracted mediation service provider.
You must not charge clients who are eligible for public funding unless they have made it clear that they do not wish to seek public funding. If this is the case the clients are responsible for meeting the charges you agree with them. You must ensure any potential client fully understands that they may be eligible for publicly funded mediation and, if they choose not to take it, that they have made an informed decision not use it. If this circumstance ever arises you may find it helpful to confirm in writing with the client that they’ve understood their right to legal aid and made an informed decision.
It is a commercial decision as to what charges to make but, if you are unsure, you may find the current rates paid to LAA contract holders for meetings with publicly funded clients a useful yardstick. These are:
Joint meeting with both clients present: £130 + VAT
Sole meeting with clients attending separately: £87 + VAT