Mandatory introduction of CCMS to go ahead on 1st April
Yesterday the Legal Aid Agency announced that they would be going ahead with the mandatory introduction of CCMS on the 1st April.
The recent problems with CCMS have been well documented and led to calls for further delays to it becoming mandatory. In a recent survey conducted by Resolution 82% of users thought that CCMS was not ready for compulsory use. The LAA’s response to the feedback has been to introduce contingency arrangements and amend the transitional arrangements:
Users ‘experiencing significant technical difficulties that prevent submission through CCMS’ will be able to submit a paper application for urgent work. The LAA do however state that users are ‘expected to exercise reasonable effort when using CCMS to submit applications and only send a paper application when unable to progress the matter using CCMS’. The volume of contingency paper applications will be monitored by contract managers.
Any new licensed work (and related post certificated work) paper applications dated prior to 8 April 2016 and received by the Legal Aid Agency on or
before Thursday 14 April 2016 will be processed
after Friday 15 April 2016 will not be processed and must be resubmitted using CCMS
In exceptional circumstances, the LAA may permit new licensed work paper applications (and related post certificated work) to be submitted after 8 April 2016
Unfortunately these changes simply do not go far enough for the many users experiencing problems with the system. Resolution, the LAPG and the Law Society have all criticised the decision. The LAA announcement stated that ‘a number of fixes have now been applied to the LAA online portal and users have seen improved performance as a result’. Many users have still been unable to access CCMS at all this morning and surely the priority should have been to take time to ensure that the system was stable and accessible by all rather than have contingency measures that are likely to be frequently required. Details of the process is set out on the CCMS training site and requires completion of a cover sheet when submitting a paper application demonstrating that you have attempted on at least two occasions to submit via CCMS!