Overview of what we offer
CASCAIDr provides FREE ‘core’ specialist legal advice, and a wider spectrum of low-cost chargeable legal advice services. We are not a law firm, and not holding ourselves out as solicitors, or as regulated/reserved legal activities providers. We can and do take clients up to the decision to issue public law and related legal proceedings, but not beyond that point.
What we don’t offer
We don’t do personal injury negligence actions, even if related to care services; we don’t sue the NHS for negligence and we don’t get involved in pure safeguarding problems, which are always about family disputes and perceptions of the risk of harm which have nothing necessarily to do with social work decisions about care plans (public law is what we are expert in).
We don’t help people give away their money to avoid paying for care.
We don’t take on disputes with CQC on behalf of providers.
We can’t usually challenge clinical/medical decisions as to what it right wrong or needed for people who are ill, and that includes people who are mentally unwell.
We don’t do employment law advice, please note, but we can at least tell a client if that’s the essence of the problem, if the client is not sure.
Our primary charitable service and first stage of any matter – our Triage Decision:
The question of whether there’ll be a cost, or whether the work you need from us will be done for free, depends on the nature of the problem, and not on your / your loved one’s financial means. Our model is explained below.
We are committed to spending up to 3 hours for free on analysing any problem that we are not quickly able to put on one side of our charging line or the other, ie at first glance. After that 3 hours of work, if we can’t make a Triage decision and give you a steer in that time, we may need to charge a fact-finding fee of £40 an hour, but will of course tell you first and seek your written agreement.
This commitment does NOT extend to scrutinising (say) 30 pdf attachments that arrive in our inbox, upside down, or unlabelled, please note. We need people who can help themselves, at least a bit, by telling us what they think about the significance of the documents that they think we need to look at.
If it’s not easy, or you can’t help us to that extent, we have volunteers who can take over unravelling the facts for free, and only if THAT still proves insufficient for us to be sure how the matter sits within our model, do we seek to charge a fact finding fee of £40 an hour for a more legally astute caseworker to progress the Triage stage.
There is a referral form to fill out (to help us help you find out whether your problem qualifies for our ‘free scope’ work) under the tab on the top menu called ‘Free Advice’. Or if you really can’t deal with our form, by reason of a disability or condition or situation that makes it impossible, you can book a free call to our helpline via the ‘Books’ icon on the right ….
Please note that we also provide talks, webinars, half and full day training sessions to charities, user and carer support groups. There are more details towards the bottom of this page (B).
Similar advice and training services can be provided to Not for Profits and commercial providers of care and support services through CASCAIDr Trading Ltd, our trading arm.
A. Legal Advice Services beyond our Triage decision
Our primary beneficiaries are people with clear and evidenced current pressing public law legal problems concerning health and social care decision-making, eg over access to advocacy, assessment, eligibility or care planning / care plan revision decisions, within a reasonable time, either by councils and CCGs. If the illegality affecting the situation is procedural only, we will look to see if there is a strongly arguable substantive challenge too, before deciding to offer any further free scope services for both parts of the problem, and if not, we can then address the outcome of the next decision made by the council, at that point, within our model.
Clients get an outcome-focused, free advice service, taking their challenge up to a certain point: that’s either a complaint to the organisation concerned or to the relevant ombudsman, a letter to the Monitoring Officer or Chief Executive/Governance Lead, or the production of what’s called a pre-action protocol letter which sets out why the public body is in the wrong, and what it needs to do to avoid legal challenge through judicial review proceedings.
Clients can continue to receive services for free for as long as we feel it’s appropriate, given our perception of the merits of the challenge, even if the public body gives a little bit of ground – we know when to advise the cessation of hostilities, to keep things proportionate.
In order to pay for that free advice to be given by professionals who know what they are talking about, public donations, whilst extremely welcome, can’t conceivably be enough, in the long term.
So CASCAIDr charges for about 2/3 of its work, which counts as trading as a charity as well (ie we sell some advice services) in order to boost its capacity to take on more cases for its primary beneficiaries of free advice. We also sell advice to individuals and to charitable organisations concerning health and social care issues, and training courses and talks as well.
1. Our ‘free scope’ services for our primary beneficiaries are for individuals with clear and evidenced public law current legal problems standing in the way of their rights to health or social care services.
The charity’s free scope output is provided for free, and comprises (where necessary)
- a Care Act / public law principles checklist to take back to the public body in question,
- and/or a pre action protocol letter, based on a case worker’s analysis of the facts.
This offering assumes that the beneficiary has been able to provide or has been supported to provide, informally or through a CASCAIDr volunteer, adequate information to the charity, in a coherent accessible manner, without extensive further input being needed from a caseworker. If that assumption is not valid in a given case, the charity’s management will make an alternative offer.
There is a referral form to fill out (to help us help you find out whether your problem qualifies for our ‘free scope’ work) under the tab on the top menu called ‘Free Advice’. Or you can book a free call to our helpline via the ‘Books’ icon on the right….
2. Our other low cost legal advice services are for a wider range of individuals’ health and social care legal issues and problems – and for charitable organisations in the health and social care sector.
Charities are allowed to trade, as long as their trading activities directly support their charitable purposes, which is why we can legitimately sell services to individuals and charities, albeit at a non-commercial rate.
CASCAIDr’s purposes include the relief of poverty and hardship, and the relief of the needy, and our advice services are one means of delivering on those purposes.
We have benchmarked our charitable advice service prices to be cheaper than anywhere else that we can find out about (anywhere that is, where a charge is made, that is not just a one person consultancy). And we are providing specialist expertise, and have been allowed to do this for money, by the Charity Commission.
Since we are seeking to extend legal expertise to a wider group of people, and have only fees to pay out to our Case Workers, and very few other overheads, we are charging £135 (no vat as yet) an hour to individuals whose problem or need is not within the scope of our free service offer, but in our secondary sphere of advice services. We still think it’s brilliant value and the feedback we receive tends to agree. People are often astonished as to what can be achieved.
Examples of the sort of individuals or problems that might be supported – but only by agreement, in return for this significantly discounted fee – might be one or more of the following:
- Someone / relative of a person who doesn’t actually qualify for free independent advocacy under the Care Act, or doesn’t like the advocate they’ve been allocated, and wants to pay for someone else, who does know what they’re talking about – this might be an advocacy service at a meeting or general hand-holding in support of a desired outcome
- A relative or statutory representative of someone lacking mental capacity, who doesn’t understand the Care Act system very well, but wants to be a more assertive and effective informal supporter or Best Interests consultee during their loved one’s care planning process – this is what we call hand-holding.
- A person with a claim that something went wrong already, but more than 6 months ago, who wants help in writing a complaint to the council, the ombudsman or the Health Service Ombudsman – this is always chargeable work.
- A person with a recent dispute about their status for NHS Continuing Health Care who’s been paying the care home or other care provider, privately, when in fact it should have been the CCG, and money should be being repaid.
Protecting against further draining of cash resources for work without being able to make any charge
Triage – at one level – is unproblematic – is the matter in scope for the charity’s expertise at all – or not? And if not, is it a matter for the Trading Company, or completely out of scope?
However, the biggest exposure of the charity is the work needed to make a triage decision when the matter is in scope for the charity but referred in, chaotically, in the first place: this sort of a case often requires more than 3 hours even to sort out the facts.
It can be either because the work is document-based and the person is incapable of mining their own documents – or because the person is incapable of focusing in writing and can’t get their story over, at least not properly, in writing.
CASCAIDr therefore charges £40ph ph for anyone who’s made a referral, where, after the reply has come in to our first or second round of questions – further document probing or discussion will be needed, by a skilled person or caseworker who is being PAID. We will ask for agreement for this charge in cases that are clearly complex or ones that are bound to involve more than 3 hours work in order to make a judgment as to whether it’s in scope, and ongoing free scope or chargeable work.
What about people with no money?
Where a person can’t afford to pay or doesn’t want to pay for this work, but has a difficulty in being clear about their problem – CASCAIDr can offer a volunteer, whose attention to the problem is a service in and of itself.
Often what people want more than anything else is just basic information OR to be heard, and get something off of their chests – but we need to operate in writing, for audit trail purposes, and clarification of the facts, to make our operation efficient. People need skills and knowledge even to ask the right questions of people in distress. So access to a volunteer who knows something about the sector, but not necessarily as much as our paid caseworkers, is our compromise, here.
A shift in our focus for obtaining some form of redress
We can’t really expect to be able to sell legal advice about problems which we can do nothing about – and in 2022 that IS the situation, unless one qualifies for legal aid and can get one’s problem PAST a law firm’s screening service.
So, to our minds, we must find something else to do with the expertise we have – something that is good for the citizen, or works in some way for the wider good of society.
The LGSCO (the ombudsman) can be NEARLY as good as a court, for most legal issues – apart from the time it takes to get one’s complaint investigated and a decision made.
There’s also the Monitoring Officer referral route as the pre-requisite full airing of the matter before one can even go to the LGSCO, because it’s a quick way of getting legal attention to the matter (in theory!)
So we’re shifting the direction of our work towards assisting people to making formal complaints, as a way of publicising that the legal aid sector is broken, for now – whilst still telling people that they can GET legal aid if that is the case, and working to forge good links with more law firms that are still functioning in the Admin Court in this field, by providing good, clear, professional summaries of the issues people are facing.
After we’ve done the analysis on new matters, we give people a Triage decision, but will turn that into something tighter and more useful for a legal aid law or fee-charging firm, to get into a law firm’s system in the first place, for a £40 fee.
If a person doesn’t want to pay for that service then we will send them our up to date list of law firms purporting to do legal aid, together with a basic summary of their problem. We could alternatively make a private sector referral if a person wouldn’t qualify for legal aid on the basis of their means – again, this would be a proper summary if the person is willing to pay £40, otherwise a basic summary if not.
We will offer to use a Crowdfunding page in our name, for anyone who is willing to endure some level of publicity for funding their serious contemplation of legal proceedings. If the target is reached, and the council gives in and shifts its position, without the need to go to a law firm, CASCAIDr is allowed to keep the money. If it doesn’t work, then the prospect of payment for the permission stage will make the case more attractive to legal aid and private sector law firms alike.
Our charges, for individuals and charitable organisations, summarised:
The charity: We have to charge for Telephone or written Advice and Drafting for anyone, with regard to matters AFTER TRIAGE or OUTSIDE the Charity’s Free Scope category: eg complaints and legal correspondence to bring about a desired outcome, rather than put right a legal wrong.
– £135 an hour to individuals (the service charge comes AFTER the FREE triage time that it was necessary to spend, to give us full enough information for triage)
– £40 an hour to individuals for finishing Triage where we need to do a couple of more hours of paid SKILLED work to get to the bottom of the facts; alternatively this can be provided for free to those who want to speak to a volunteer, on the understanding that that person is not being held out as competent to give legal advice, and may not ask the right questions, first time round.
£40 flat fee for summarising the strengths and weaknesses of a case, for onward transmission to a law firm, or for presentation on a Crowdjustice page, to start fundraising.
The Trading Company: – £175 an hour if the client is an individual with a problem within the scope of our Trading Company’s expertise, or a not for profit or charitable organisation, via CASCAIDr Trading Ltd – see below for more details.
3. CASCAIDr Trading Ltd customers – non-charitable advice for certain types of problems for individuals, non charitable Providers and/or Councils
CASCAIDr Trading Ltd will take on individuals’ matters, subject to being able to source competent input, where the law is more complex and not part of the charity CASCAIDr’s ordinary core expertise – such as a Mental Health Act aftercare situation or where Housing Law or special education law is all mixed up with the issue.
As set out above, individuals seeking advice that is outside the objects of the charity (as to which the management’s decision shall be final) may be provided with advice by our Trading Company arm (CASCAIDr Trading Ltd) at the rate of £175 per hour.
If the advice being sought is sought by a Not For Profit, or a commercial organisation, it cannot be given by CASCAIDr as a charity but may be attended to through the Trading Subsidiary if the potential client chooses to accept that company’s fees):
It’s £200 an hour if you’re a commercially driven organisation or a public authority, from our Trading Company, £175 if you’re a not for profit. Terms: payment within 14 days, with late payment interest terms applicable
This latter rate is also the hourly rate for all organisations which subscribe to CASCAIDr Trading Ltd’s annual packages of advice and training – for any further hours of advice over the allotted 3 hours.
If you are a Provider Organisation, working in the care and support field, or a council, or a CCG we will be happy to provide advice, subject to our not already having been asked for advice, by someone else who’s involved in the same dispute or issue.
Providers might have an issue over a fees dispute, or MCA or safeguarding obligations to their own client, etc.
- Organisations taking out a Package Deal with the Charity’s trading company are able to benefit from up to 3 hours advice a year as an inclusive part of their Flat Rate package.
- Organisations which are charities, in terms of their constitution, can pay £175 an hour for one off advice when needed from CASCAIDr or from CASCAIDr Trading without taking out a Package Deal.
- Commercial Organisations and Councils/CCGs can still purchase advice when needed, but will be charged £200 per hour by the Trading Company for advice if they haven’t taken out a membership package. When more than the 3 hours’ annual entitlement is needed, they will pay £175 an hour for additional advice.
B. Other non-advice services
Here, you will find a list of various additional services we can be asked to provide on a bespoke basis through CASCAIDr’s or our Trading Company’s contractors:
- CASCAIDr offers FREE briefings on care and health legal judgments and legislation: to access these, visit the Search Facility in the right-hand side bar, select the appropriate category from the Search drop-down list, put in a word that makes sense to you, and click Search, or just search that category as a whole.
- The Care and Health Law Q and A database is part of our Package Deal which you can learn about here. In 2022 it will be reconfigured to become available to all, without subscription.
- Training Services – short talks and training courses for specific types of client.
- Dispute Resolution – we can be paid to act as an early neutral evaluator of the legal merits of a dispute, if both sides on a dispute agree to come to us together
- Advocates’ support – through our package deal services, or bespoke by way of advice services by the hour
C. Miscellaneous – all works in progress at this point
Advocacy face to face where we have contractors in your area – on zoom for now
Advocacy ‘Plus’ for knocking agencies’ heads together as to whose job it is to do this, that or the
Representative Actions in the discretion of the Board, and supporting people seeking protective costs orders
A Litigation Friend service for a permission application for Judicial Review that’s being supported by the charity – 5 hours for free to those lacking in mental capacity, if the anticipated costs of the permission application have been successfully crowdfunded through ourselves;
Representative service for Court of Protection matters as Approved Practitioners.