The LAA is updating its guidance on the remuneration of expert witnesses. A member of Resolution’s legal aid committee will attend a meeting with the LAA and provided comments.
The LAA is continuing to develop its new interface for CCMS, known as Apply for legal aid. It intends to streamline the current process for all concerned and enable clients to share financial information with the LAA through a ‘one off’ use of open banking. A Resolution legal aid committee member will attend a demonstration of the new software in September. We will keep you updated.
Resolution working for you – LASPO review
The MOJ is proposing to have a meeting to discuss a review of the means test in late September. Resolution is keen to hear from members as to how the means test is working for you.
One of the LASPO review proposals is to extend eligibility for non‑means tested legal aid for parents, or those with parental responsibility, who wish to oppose applications for placement orders or adoption orders in public family law proceedings. As far as we are aware, there has been no progress on this.
A further proposal is to extend legal aid to cover Special Guardianship Orders. Regulations have not been drafted yet but there will be a meeting towards the end of September to discuss them.
There has been a meeting in order to review the process of applying for exceptional case funding.
Police disclosure/medical records
Resolution Legal Aid Committee members report that the LAA does not always appear to follow its own guidance on when they should pay charges for police disclosure and medical records. The guidance states that when a request is due to records being required for Court proceedings, the LAA should pay as it is not a subject access request under GDPR. Resolution will be pursuing the issue with the LAA.
In the meantime, members may wish to draw caseworkers’ attention to the Civil Finance Handbook (paras 10.1 and 10.25) and the Escape Cases Handbook (paras 5.1 and 5.23). They set out when a request can be considered a subject access request under GDPR (and therefore no fee should be charged) and when it falls outside GDPR provisions and a charge is justified and may be re-claimed. There is also useful information on the Information Commissioner’s website.
Top ten reasons for rejects
The LAA recently provided this information about why bills are being rejected:
|Top 10 CCMS Rejects||Reject %||KPI/non-KPI|
|This is a non-KPI reject for Disbursement Voucher missing or incomplete||43%||Non-KPI|
|At Provider Request – Non-KPI reject||10%||Non-KPI|
|Priority Return Non-KPI reject 2||6%||Non-KPI|
|FAS – Incorrect Hearing Unit/Fee Claimed||5%||KPI|
|VHCC FI – Non-KPI reject 2||4%||Non-KPI|
|This is a non -KPI reject for Document Request not responded to||4%||Non-KPI|
|At Provider Request – Non-KPI reject 2||4%||Non-KPI|
|Out of Scope work claimed||3%||KPI|
|Document Requests not responded to 2||3%||Non-KPI|
|Work that cannot be claimed included||2%||KPI|
|Top 10 CCMS document requests||%||KPI/non-KPI|
|Document request not responded to||11%|
|Expert details insufficient (please list information required)||11%||Non-KPI|
|Counsel fees do not reconcile||10%||Non-KPI|
|Disbursement voucher missing||8%||Non-KPI|
|Counsel hourly rates bill not submitted||6%||Non-KPI|
|Court order required (please list why)||5%||Non-KPI|
|Solicitor travel details required||5%||Non-KPI|
|Case narrative missing||4%|
- The LAA has issued updated guidance for claiming escape fee cases
- It has uploaded a new CW1 onto its website although it is still dated May 2018 version 23
- The directory of providers has been updated to show the organisations holding face to face contracts in Education and Discrimination, which went live on 1 September
- The EC1 application form for exceptional case funding has been updated
- The Supervisor form guidance document has been updated to cover the Education and Discrimination categories
- The LAA has published the following civil processing times:
|Work type||Current position (working days)|
|Applications (inc means assessments)||12 days|
|Means re-assessments||17 days|
Flexible Court hours pilot
After a delay, the pilot has started at Brentford County Court (civil cases only) and at Manchester Civil Justice Centre (civil and family cases). In Manchester two court rooms will operate from 16:30 to 19:00. For more information see the August news.