Keeping up to date with the Civil Finance Electronic Handbook

The Legal Aid Agency has updated the Civil Finance Electronic Handbook.

Useful Resource to Know

This useful electronic resource has been created from case workers queries and requests for clarification and should be used in conjunction with your contract specification and other guidance such as the costs assessment guidance which can be found here.

Clarification Given

There are a number of useful clarifications included on the difference between CCMS and paper claims  – for example,  section 2.4 gives new guidance in relation to claiming for completing CCMS work items although the guide stops short of advising the items specifically regarded as “administrative” under CCMS. Essentially you can claim for work in relation to preparing the initial application for legal aid, any amendments for funding, case outcome, payments on account and responding to emails, correspondence and notifications from the LAA. Claims for CCMS downtime or slowness would be considered an office overhead and would not be allowed on assessment. The LAA advises that any incidents in relation to downtime should be flagged with Online Support for investigation.

Other additions include evidence requirements in relation to advocates meetings clarified in relation to level of judge, guidance on risk assessment for process servers, orders for transcription fees and DNA testing of grandparents.

Rejected Claims

It is also worth reviewing Chapter 16 which looks at rejected claims and summarises those items which would cause a “hard reject” (examples include incorrect rates, work out of scope or VAT incorrect) compared to those that would be given priority return status (examples include disbursement vouchers not being provided or when the advocates attendance form is incomplete or missing). A hard reject will be recorded within the key performance indicators for a provider, whereas a priority reject will not be recorded within the key performance indicators for a provider. This section of the guidance also looks at when the LAA would issue a document request for further information. Find out more here.

Incorrect Reject ?

Experience has show that the LAA don’t always get it right and different case workers will still come to different decisions despite them using the same Civil Finance Electronic Handbook. Therefore if you suspect an incorrect reject or incorrect document request, email laacivilclaimfix@justice.gov.uk and they have a 24 hour turnaround target and if successful it will take the incorrect reject off the KPI’s or take the document request off the system. The benefit of this if you are successful is obvious, however it also has the benefit of providing feedback to the individual caseworkers to stop the incorrect rejections happening again.

If you have any additional questions relating to your legal aid claims please do not hesitate to contact us on 0370 300 3780 or email us direct  on info@johnmhayes.co.uk – we are always happy to help!