Bar Squared is aware of the recent tendering exercise run by certain local authorities, whereby a condition of the tender was that successful chambers would be required to bill the local authority using an invoice rather than a fee note.
Whilst it is understood that some chambers made representations to the Local Authorities to ask for them to accept the fee note system, the Local Authorities are insistent on invoicing and have pointed out that chambers had in their bidding for the work already given a commitment to invoicing.
Members of the Bar Council have consulted the taxation barrister on the Bar Council's Remuneration Committee, who is one of the authors of the Bar Council's Taxation and Retirement Benefits Handbook and have just advised that the best way forward for barristers/chambers in this situation is for those barristers concerned to move to the Cash Accounting Scheme for VAT.
This means that a barrister can invoice, but the tax point only arises from date of payment. This would mean that whether a barrister invoices or fee notes, or does a mixture of both, the advantageous tax position for the barrister is retained and is not a mixed tax point situation. I understand that a disadvantage of moving to that Scheme would be that a barrister could not reclaim VAT on purchases in advance of paying the suppliers, but it is doubtful that many barristers reclaim the VAT prior to making purchases in any case.
LEX users can be confident that the current invoicing functionality will comply with the LBLA requirements for billing, yet the barristers’ current VAT position is not changed.
The development of an electronic file to automatically transfer LEX invoices generated for LBLA members to the RBS Processing Centre is currently passing through the testing process and should be available in time for the April billing period.
We have also been made aware of a requirement to provide monthly MMI reports to Kennedy Carter. At this time we do not know whether it will be possible to produce this information from LEX automatically but once our investigations have been completed we will provide a further update.
The Bar Council's Taxation Handbook is currently being revised by a team of authors. On completion, The Bar Council will make the relevant extract available to enquirers, rather than delay until the entire new Handbook is published.
Any chambers who will be obliged to invoice according to the LBLA requirement should contact our Helpdesk (0116) 272 5015 to discuss configuration and training requirements well in advance of the start date.