Tag Archives: community care

CCMS mandatory from October

The LAA announced this week that the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) will become mandatory for new civil applications and bills from 1 October 2015.  The LAA has served notice under clause 20 of the Standard Civil Contract. Organisations should have received formal notification by email, which should be confirmed by post by the end of January.

The LAA says it is giving greater notice than strictly required under the contract to give practitioners time to train and get used to the new system gradually. Feedback from practioners suggests that the LAA also needs to undertake development in order to make the system work well before it becomes mandatory. Resolution has been leading the representative bodies in pressing the LAA for improvements in functionality.

The LAA has made online training modules available which take practitioners through the relevant stages:

  • Getting access to the system
  • Training
  • Starting to use the system
  • Masterclasses
  • Support available

In addition, they have provided face to face sessions in a number of practices. Resolution has provided a comprehensive guide for its members, based on the experience of members in the north east who were involved in the pilot.

CCMS means the way you deal with legal aid administration will have to change significantly. Practitioners would be well advised to take full advantage of the lead in period before October.






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Filed under Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

Good news if you need NMS

The LAA has issued new guidance to its Contract Managers which may make it easier for practitioners to get more civil New Matter Starts (NMS) if they run out.

This is less of an issue than it used to be under the Access to Justice Act scheme when more Controlled Work was done; but we still hear reports from some practitioners that they have run out of NMS and when they asked their Contract Manager for more, were told that another practice in their Procurement Area (PA) still had some, so they should send the client there. This is clearly unsatisfactory from both the client’s and the practice’s point of view.

However, from 22 January 2015, whether another practice in the PA has NMS is no longer to be taken into account.

You will need to convince your Contract Manager:

  • you are unable to meet an urgent demand for your services
  • or
  • an urgent need arises because another practice has reduced or stopped providing the service
  • or
  • there is a general increase in demand for services of that type in your PA

The Contract Manager can authorise up to another 50% on top of your original schedule allocation (so if your initial allocation was 100, you can be awarded up to 50 more that year).

If you applied for a lot size in the tender that allowed you to self grant up to an additonal 50%, you cannot apply to your Contract Manager for more.

In exceptional circumstances, the Contract Manager may be able to grant additional NMS to address emergency situations.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Family, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

Catch LAPG’s conference early bird deal

The LAPG conference will take place in London on 10 October. As usual, it features speakers from the LAA, MOJ, and Law Society amongst others, to bring you the very latest developments in legal aid. In addition, leading practitioners will provide workshops to help you run your legal aid practice successfully. Workshops include; family, social welfare law, recent developments in JR and exceptional funding, best practice in recruitment, working with interns, maxmising costs in civil and crime, Young Legal Aid Lawyers.

There will also be a debate on who and what will survive the unprecedented changes which continue to affect all categories of law. Recent conferences have sold out – can you afford to miss this opportunity to get completely up to speed in just one day? If you can get to London the night before, the pre conference dinner (£66.00 per head) is a good chance to catch up with colleagues and network with new people. LAPG can put you in touch with members who can offer overnight accommodation, so you won’t have hotel expenses.

But hurry – the early bird conference deal (£174 inc VAT for LAPG members and £234 for non members) is only available until 12 September. Book using the conference flyer which can be downloaded here.


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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Advocacy, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Policy, Public Law, Social welfare

Legal aid – tell the NAO what you think but be quick

The National Audit Office is currently undertaking a study into whether the government’s civil legal aid reforms can be considered to represent value for money. The report will go to the respected Public Accounts Committee later this year. The NAO says that the views of the providers of legal aid services will form an important part of the study.

It is seeking your views through a short online survey, which will close on Friday 25th July 2014. It should take 15-20 minutes to complete and all responses will remain strictly anonymous. You can find the survey here.

UPDATE: The closing date has been extended to 1st August.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Advocacy, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Mental Health, Policy, Public Law, Social welfare

MOJ to appeal residence test JR result

Further to our post yesterday, the MOJ has indicated that it intends to appeal. At 11.56 am on Tuesday July 15 2014, the MOJ tweeted ‘Following today’s judgement on the JR of the civil legal aid residence test, @MOJGovUK intends to appeal’  Link here

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Residence test declared unlawful

In the JR taken by the Public Law Project, the residence test has been declared unlawful in no uncertain terms by the Divisional Court. The judgment, which was unanimous and runs to 40 pages, is expressed in robust terms:

Lord Justice Moses said: …..’it is not possible to justify such discrimination in an area where all are equally subject to the law, resident or not, and equally entitled to its protection, resident or not.’

He also said: .. ‘the instrument is ultra vires and unlawful. I conclude that LASPO does not permit such a criterion to be introduced by secondary legislation. It extends the scope and purpose of the statute and is, accordingly, outwith the power conferred…..’

We hope that the MOJ would be discouraged from any appeal, having read the judgment, and the residence test will be immediately withdrawn rather than postponed pending an appeal.

You can read the PLP press release here.


Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Public Law, Social welfare

LAA amends scope of community care services

Once again (see our previous post on child care deductions for students), Ben Hoare Bell has succeeded in persuading the Ministry of Justice to make an amendment that will benefit practitioners and clients alike. The firm pointed out that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) were abolished under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and replaced with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). PCTs were named as ‘relevant persons’ under paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 but CCGs were not, which caused a problem due to the way schedule 1 of LASPO restricts legal aid to services which are explicitly within scope.

However, Ben Hoare Bell was recently informed that regulations had been laid to include CCGs within the scope of Schedule 1. You can read the letter here. The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Community Care) Regulations 2014 came into force on 7 July and you can find them on the LASPO Resources page under Statutory Instruments – civil.

Many thanks to Ben Hoare Bell for taking this up with the MOJ and letting us know the outcome.

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The case behind student child care costs

We reported that from 7 April, child care costs can be deducted from income for people studying outside the home.

We don’t always know why things happen in legal aid; but we now know what led to this change. Cris McCurley and the team at Ben Hoare Bell had a client who was the victim of rape. She was not able to represent herself when the man she said raped her applied for contact with their daughter.

As part of her therapy, the client undertook a university course. The fact that her child care costs were not an allowable deduction meant she was not eligible for legal aid. Ben Hoare Bell tried to negotiate with the LAA; but were told there was no flexibility. The solicitors got Counsel’s advice and sent a letter before action. At this point the LAA agreed that this client’s circumstances were exceptional, and legal aid would be granted. Earlier this week, the firm was informed that the LAA had also decided to change the rule. As Cris said ‘It really does show that we have to keep on fighting.’


Filed under Civil, Family, Social welfare

New child care deductions for students

The LAA has announced that the deduction in respect of child care costs now applies to people studying outside the home as well as people who are working.

Clients will need to provide information regarding child care costs when applying for legal aid, whether via the Agency in respect of a full representation certificate, or via a practitioner when applying for Legal Help.

Practitioners will need to bring this to the attention of any client who may be eligible for reduced contributions due to the new deduction as they can request a review. Also, clients who have recently been found ineligible but who could benefit, should be advised to re-apply.

A new keycard has also been issued to take account of benefits uprating and the new deduction.


Filed under Civil, Community Care, Family, Housing, Immigration, Social welfare

MOJ publishes exceptional case funding stats

The MOJ has published statistics on the number of cases funded under the exceptional case provisions in s10(3) of LASPO. These allow funding in a case that would normally be outside scope but where the particular circumstances mean that the client’s human rights would be breached if funding were not granted.

There were 1,151 applications between April and December 2013 (rather fewer than the government’s forecast of around 6,000), of which 35 have been granted. 21 were in respect of inquests, 8 in family, 3 in immigration and one each for housing,  an inquiry/tribunal or ‘other’. The government’s view, as expressed recently in the Lords by Lord Faulks, is that these statistics are not a cause for concern, and the system is working as intended.

The Public Law Project has some useful resources on its website to assist in making applications. They also run a helpline to assist with queries on exceptional case funding and civil legal aid more generally – 0808 165 0170. It is open from 10-11 am every weekday except Thursday.




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