The LAA’s Standard Civil Contract 2018 has a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of 5 per cent (maximum) rejects. Rejects happen when applications or claims cannot be processed or are returned because of technical errors in submission, lack of attachments etc. in relation to both applications for legal aid and claims for payment.
Some rejects count towards KPIs and some do not. The latter are known as ‘soft rejects’ and are often resolved by a request from the LAA for more information. Although the rejects that count towards the KPI have been only slightly over the KPI level, soft rejects and requests for further information have gone up significantly.
In April 2019, bills KPI rejected, non-KPI rejected and those where documents were requested totalled 47% of all bills processed. The LAA was concerned as this represented a significant waste of resources both for itself and for providers. The LAA decided to focus on the use of ‘document requests’ to make sure that they were being used appropriately and were not masking bills that should have been rejected. The new approach was applied from August. Since then the overall return rate has dropped from 47% of all bills to 25%. This has enabled the LAA to process more bills and make payments more quickly.
The LAA wants to reduce rejects still further. You should be receiving Provider Activity Reports vis your Contract Manager (see below for how to check who is receiving these) which give information about KPI rejects. Contract Managers will be discussing these with their firms where needed.
The biggest reason the LAA cannot pay a bill first time is because disbursement vouchers are missing or incomplete (43% of rejects). Sometimes the LAA rejects a bill in error. If you think the LAA has made a mistake in rejecting your work you can use the ‘claim fix’ email so that it doesn’t affect your KPI. Claim-fix also deals with what they call ‘secondary requests’ where you have already provided documents or documents are not necessary. The LAA says that in October, 45% of rejects submitted to ‘claim-fix’ were due to provider error but accepts 33% were its own error.
The LAA encourages you to use ‘claim-fix’ if you think the error is theirs. They will be launching a series of Masterclasses to help you submit bills correctly and we will bring you more information when we available.