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Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett
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Consultation on speedier legal aid processing
Date:10 APR 2008

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) today launched a 12-week consultation on proposals for modernising business processes.

The 'Delivery Transformation' consultation paper aims to transform the way providers interact with the LSC.

According the LSC, more electronic working would reduce the time taken to resolve a client's civil legal aid problem while reducing the cost of administering legal aid for both providers and the LSC.

The LSC anticipate these proposals would result in £7million savings per year on administering legal aid.

The consultation suggests that, from April 2010, the plans could be achieved through devolving responsibility to providers and streamlining information transfer. Key proposals include:

  • legal aid providers (including advocates) using electronic systems for case administration
  • devolving responsibility to lawyers to determine client eligibility for legal aid (means only) in many civil cases via an online application system
  • devolving the responsibility to discharge certificates in a range of circumstances
  • a more streamlined system for managing client contributions
  • electronic billing to be significantly increased.

Helen Riley, the LSC's Executive Director for Organisational Transformation said:
"We have already received positive feedback on our early testing with providers of this quicker electronic method of working. However, we strongly encourage all interested parties to participate in this consultation so that your needs are genuinely reflected in the final design.

"Of course we recognise that there will be concerns following the recent difficulties with our existing online billing system, which have resulted in its temporary closure. We strongly believe, we must not let these difficulties deflect or delay our future modernisation plans, but learn the lessons from that experience for the longer term.

"Electronic working on this scale is new to virtually all of us but it is also the inevitable direction of the future. We need to focus on this opportunity now to realise many long-term benefits and efficiency gains for providers, for the legal aid fund and, most of all, for clients of legal aid."

The 12-week consultation will close on 3 July 2008.

For more information, including the consultation, visit the LSC website by clicking here.