A round up of some recent news:
Mandatory CCMS roll out
The LAA has announced that CCMS won’t be made mandatory until 1 April 2016 – but the original date of 1 February stays in place for Special Children Act cases.
Legal aid statisitics
The latest legal aid statistics were published this week and made for the usual depressing reading. Crime expenditure and workload continues to fall, as does Legal Help. Two bright spots were that grants of civil certificates were up 9%, and the grant rate for exceptional funding has risen to almost half of applications – though the numbers of applications hasn’t increased on the same period last year.
Waiting for legal aid not a good reason for delay
Last week the Court of Appeal gave judgment in Kigen & Anor, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1286, a case in which the appellants appealed against refusal to grant an extension for lodging a judicial review application. The Court made clear that delays caused by waiting for decisions of the Legal Aid Agency will no longer be an acceptable reason for delay or for the grant of an extension of time.
Moore-Bick LJ said that “It may be that, in the light of the older authorities to which I have referred, solicitors in general may have been under the impression that any delay awaiting a decision by the Legal Aid Agency would simply be ignored if an extension of time were required as a result. That is not the case and it is to be hoped that any such misunderstanding will have been dispelled as a result of the decision in this case. Those acting for parties in the position of these appellants will in future need to take steps either to lodge the necessary form promptly on behalf of their clients or to advise them of the need to do so on their own behalf. Failure to lodge the necessary request within the prescribed time may in future result in an extension of time being refused.” (para 29).
Leave was granted in this case, exceptionally, because of that general impression. But the court made clear that, in future, delays in getting legal aid granted will not be a good reason for delay. There’s more analysis of this case at the Civil Litigation Brief blog.
Costs Protection in the Upper Tribunal
Free Movement has a post that’s worth reading on costs protection for legally aided clients in immigration judicial review proceedings before the Upper Tribunal.
House of Lords debates legal aid cuts again
The House of Lords debated the cuts to legal aid again last week. Once again various members set out the problems the cuts have caused, and once again the government promised a review of LASPO’s implementation but made no promise of changes. The transcript of the debate is here.
Not for profit legal aid providers
The MoJ released a survey of NfP providers this week. The survey found that the NfP sector had halved in size since the last major study ten years ago; unsurprising, perhaps, since 90% of NfP providers stopped doing legal aid work as a result of the LASPO cuts.
Earnings from crime
The MoJ has also published a study of earnings from the Crime AGFS. It shows that average earnings have declined in recent years, from £97,000 to £90,000 for “notionally full-time” advocates. Advocacy has been protected from the recent fee cuts affecting police station and litigation work.