CCMS – The Countdown Begins
As we are all well aware by now the LAA’s Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) becomes mandatory for Special Children Act cases from 01 February 2016 and mandatory for all cases from 01 April 2016.
There are a number of guidance sheets available from the LAA, however due to Paramount Legal Costs having used the system for quite a while now, we have picked up a number of important pieces of information that have come from our experience of using the system. This information will hopefully help guide you in claiming your costs on CCMS.
1) Setting up a Costs Draftsman
If you use a Costs Draftsman (and it had become more apparent that more Solicitors will need to due to the requirements of CCMS), you will need to set them up as users on your system. The LAA, having acknowledged that Costs Draftsmen are used by the majority of Solicitors, that Costs Draftsmen undertake normally work for a number of firms and will be using CCMS extensively, have provided guidance on how to best set up Costs Draftsmen on their system. They advise that each Costs Draftsman is set up individually, using their full names and then the initials of the firm of Solicitors as their user name.
For Example Costs Draftsman Claire Robson acting on behalf of ABC Solicitors could be set up as follows:
User name : CLAIREROBSONABC
(It is not advised to use symbols in a user name such as & and @ as this sometimes causes difficulties with accessing the system once a user has been set up).
The Costs Draftsman’s direct email address should also be used so that any notifications/actions are received directly by the Costs Draftsman and, if instructed, they can respond accordingly.
A Costs Draftsman should be given the responsibility of ‘Bill Preparation’ which allows a Costs Draftsman to prepare a claim on CCMS. The responsibility of ‘Bill Supervision’ should also be added if you intend to instruct a Costs Draftsman to deal with the submission of claims and the uploading of evidence on your behalf.
2) Discharging a Case & Recording Outcome Codes
Whether or not you use a Costs Draftsman, before a Final Bill can be prepared on or uploaded onto CCMS, the case will need to be discharged and the outcome codes completed. Before this only the interim Bill option is available. Once you have done this, you may receive a notification/action from CCMS requesting that a copy of the Final Order be uploaded onto the system.
3) Counsel’s Fees on CCMS
Counsel’s fees under CCMS are claimed directly on the system by Counsel/Counsel’s Chambers. For claims to be assessed by the LAA, Counsel’s fees are not included in the claim either on CCMS or in the claim which is uploaded onto CCMS, although Counsel’s fees still count towards the cost limitation of the Public Funding Certificate. In Bills of Costs for assessment by the Court, Counsel’s fees are included in the Bill of Costs as these fees need to be included in the Post Assessment documents, which are eventually uploaded onto CCMS.
Please note that Counsel’s fees are still taken into account in relation to whether a matter is to be assessed by the LAA or by the Court (non Fixed Fee and FAS matters and Non Family matters).
Also in relation to Counsel’s fees, before a claim will be paid by the LAA, the amount of costs allocated to Counsel on CCMS must match the amount paid to Counsel. Any surplus of costs allocated to Counsel will need to be re-allocated back into Solicitor’s costs.
4) Evidence Requests
Once a claim has been submitted/uploaded onto CCMS, you will subsequently receive a notification/action from the LAA requesting that evidence be uploaded in support of the claim. This notification/action will normally be sent to the user who submitted/uploaded the claim. Documents usually requested are a Narrative in support of the claim, FAS forms, details in relation to any FAS exceptional travel claims, hearing attendance notes, disbursement vouchers and signed confirmation of any Panel Membership, if you are claiming an enhancement due to this.
5) Bills for Court Assessment
In relation to Bills of Costs for Court assessment, these are prepared normally on paper (including Counsel’s fees as mentioned earlier) and sent to the Court for assessment. The EX80a/b is sent to and sealed by the Court and the Post Assessment Claim 1/1A prepared as normal. Once all this has taken place, work is undertaken on CCMS. The Post Assessment figures are inputted into CCMS and then the assessed Bill of Costs and Post Assessment documents are uploaded onto CCMS, once the notification/action has been received.
6) Lead Certificates & Nil Bills
In a matter where you are representing several clients, linked Certificates will be issued by the LAA on CCMS. One of the CCMS Certificates will be nominated as the lead Certificate and the entire cost limitation of all the Certificates will be allocated to this Certificate. The cost limitation of the linked Certificates will be reduced to zero. It will be under the lead Certificate that the Bill will be prepared. Before a claim is paid under a Lead Certificate, you may be asked to prepare Nil Bills for the linked Certificates. We have had cases where we have been asked to prepare Nil Bills and cases where a claim has been paid without Nil Bills being prepared. If requested, once the Nil Bills have been submitted, then the lead Certificate claim can be paid.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me on 01228 819131 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org