2015 Legal Aid Recap
For those working in Legal Aid at Paramount Legal Costs, 2015 became the year that centered around one main thing, the LAA’s Client and Cost Management System (CCMS). From the moment we were informed of the date the use of CCMS would become mandatory (and long before this) we began gathering information about the system. We undertook the LAA’s online training, read all guidance available and liaised with our software company, who had been working with the LAA to make their software compatible with CCMS. We also encouraged our clients to begin using the system, to beat the rush just prior to the LAA’s mandatory date. The majority of our clients are now using CCMS therefore Paramount has been able to build up quite a lot of valuable experience. We have prepared and finalised numerous CCMS claims, both directly on CCMS and also using our compatible software. We now also have experience of High Cost Cases on CCMS, completing Nil Bills when requested by the LAA and also Appeal bills.
Just prior to Christmas 2015, the LAA announced that whilst the mandatory date for the use of CCMS for Special Children Act Applications would remain as 01/02/16, for all other cases the mandatory date would now be 31/03/16.
The mandatory use of CCMS for new Special Children Act Applications is now in full force, with the 2nd date fast approaching; therefore we at Paramount expect that CCMS will continue to be a main focus in Legal Aid matters throughout 2016 and for the foreseeable future.
Another major change which took place in 2015 was the introduction of the new High Cost Case Plans for Care matters. All single Counsel/Solicitor Care cases registered as High Cost from 01/10/15 will be paid under the VHCC Family Care Case Fee Scheme (CCFS) save in exceptional circumstances. Case Plans will now be prepared on the new CCFS form, which have been introduced by the LAA to combine the CCFS Case Plan and Claim 1 form (which was previously required by the LAA at the end of the case). This is to prevent a duplication of work by a Solicitor or Costs Draftsman.
Another main change with the introduction of this form is that the CCFS form can be submitted at any point during the case therefore doing away with the 4 week time limit of the previous Case Plans. Further CCFS forms would not needed until the end of the proceedings, unless an increase in the financial limit is required.
Another new form was introduced by the LAA in December 2015 and this was the Claim 1C. This form would be used in place of a Post-Assessment Claim 1 or Claim 1A, combining information from both of these forms. The use of the Claim 1C is not yet mandatory and the LAA has not given any indication of when it might become so.
If you have any queries in relation to the above article, if you have any Legal Aid costing queries in general, or would like to know how Paramount Legal Costs can help you, please contact me by email or call me direct on 01228 815396.