Always reliable and accurate, with a good turnaround speed.
Paul Bunting, Partner, Aspinall Wright Solicitors
Legal aid practitioners should be aware of anticipated improvements to the way in which legally aided cases are to be managed from the initial application stage right through to the final billing of matters.
The Legal Services Commission is currently developing an internet based online portal incorporating the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS). The aim of CCMS is to develop an online system in which practitioners will manage all funding aspects of their legally aided cases. Initial applications, means forms and means assessments, amendments to the scope or limitation of the legal aid certificate, disbursement claims and the final billing process of Claim 1 and Claim 1A forms will be managed within CCMS. During the means assessment process the system will also link with that of the DWP in order to quickly determine the proposed client’s current state benefits entitlement. CCMS will allow for any documentation in support of a claim for funding to be electronically scanned and submitted as an attachment.
As with the current process, each case will be uniquely referenced and regular notifications will be given by the LSC through the portal; whether it be notice that a caseworker is viewing a submission or notification of a caseworker’s decision on a specific issue. Such notifications will be easily accessible and will remain as a permanent record, providing one single place to reference a chronology of activity against the legal aid certificate.
Counsel will also make claims through CCMS and the system will be able to determine the hourly rates or fixed fees applicable to the case type by way of reference to the initial application process. CCMS is ultimately intended to be an intelligent system which will seek to prevent inaccurate information or processes being applied.
CCMS will initially run as a pilot in the North East of England with approximately 47 firms having volunteered to take part. Only civil certified work will be submitted during the pilot which is expected to run for approximately six months. Following successful completion of the pilot, the LSC are looking to implement a phased roll out CCMS nationwide in the summer of 2013.
The LSC are open to constructive feedback during the pilot and further information can be found at: www.legalservices.gov.uk/civil/legal_aid_online.asp