The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has set out a standard approach to help turn around your work more efficiently when submitting online and paper bills.
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The 11th edition is available to order here. The LAA has issued guidance on its preferred format for files of papers, both paper and electronic. The standardised format builds on existing best practice in solicitors’ files and helps to ensure your work is easy to locate.
A standard format:
makes it easy to find documentation and less likely that evidence will be missed within the file, thereby reducing queries and assessments and avoidable appeals;
assists in processing claims quicker; and
builds on existing best practice.
What is the standard file format?
You should submit a main file of both online and paper files in the following chronological order:
letters in and out
court attendance notes
There should be a separate folder for:
disbursement vouchers – the vouchers should be numbered to correspond with the claim
court bundle including pleadings, orders etc
legal help form including CW2 where applicable
evidence for domestic violence, where applicable
experts’ reports, unless included within court bundle
Where possible all work should be in chronological order.
Electronic file submissions
Where files are being submitted electronically they should be clearly labelled to indicate what each file contains.
For example, ‘work dated 01/01/2015 to 30/06/2015’ or ‘letters and emails 2015’.
The LAA's preference is for the electronic file to be uploaded via a cloud-based storage system. Where files are being submitted electronically as a PDF/Word document these should be separated into reasonable size files. Each upload should be a maximum of 8mb. You should note that the LAA is unable to download documents.
Where possible, electronic documents should be searchable. This will help ensure that caseworkers can easily identify the correct documentation on assessment and should reduce the level of queries or assessments.
Similarly, where using a cloud-based system, the LAA's preference is that it only has access to the files needed for assessment. This assists with finding the correct documentation, makes the process quicker and reinforces data security.