Kindly written & supplied by Jerry Bull (Managing Director of Atkins Hope, Solicitors in Croydon) & Samantha Little (Partner & Head of the Children Law Team at Russell-Cooke in Kingston) from their talk to the ALC Conference.
A Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) – civil online working
• Process begins w/c 21.10.13 with registration and training
• 20th January 2014 – rolls out for providers A-F (and all counsel)
• 31st March 2014 – rolls out for providers G – Z or a number
• 3 month transition period
• providers and their counsel to make legal aid applications and submit bills electronically
• allows them to scan and submit supporting documents electronically
• clients to pay the LAA in new ways, e.g. credit and debit cards, payment reference cards and via direct debit.
Benefits (according to the LAA!)
The system reduces duplication and errors and also means providers can benefit from:
• limited postage costs and a single document scanning centre to send us information
• more secure case and client information
• direct DWP link for providers to check their clients’ benefits status
• Seeing all payments on the certificate
• Knowing what is happening on the certificate
• Speedier processing of applications as they can be dealt by anyone at LAA anywhere in the country.
B Rate changes
All our fixed fees (not FAS) and hourly rates will reduce by 10% it is thought from next April (to be confirmed)
C Residence test
The Government has re-thought its proposed residence test whereby it had been proposed that all applicants for legal aid would have had to show the right to live in this country and that they had been here for 12 months
Following pressure and the responses, the Government has indicated that this rule will not apply to children less than a year old, or where the client is particularly vulnerable (not yet defined) or to cases concerning the protection of children. However, how it will affect private law cases is a concern for us all and we will need to look out for the final proposals and rules which are due to come in early 2014.
D Single Family Court
The LAA/MOJ are consulting the representative bodies on whether there should be any changes to the FAS fees when the new single court comes into existence in April 2013 on the basis that the division between courts will be less obvious. You will need to keep an eye out for changes in relation to FAS fees alongside the guidance for the single family court
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