A statement published by the Legal Aid Agency on Friday (18 December 2015) reveals a delay in mandatory reporting of Special Children Act cases using the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) until early 2016.
Applications for civil legal aid work under the Special Children Act will now be required to use the CCMS from 1 February 2016. Applications for all other civil cases will be mandatory from 1 April 2016. The Legal Aid Agency cites the cause of the delay as being the release of key enhancements in the upcoming few weeks.
The delay is good news for family law group Resolution, who, amongst other legal aid organisations, have previously lobbied for a postponement in using the CCMS for mandatory reporting as it currently contains a number of ‘serious issues’ within its system.
Elspeth Thompson, who leads Resolution’s work on legal aid, was hopeful that the delay will mean fewer issues experienced by professionals already utilising the CCMS to make legal aid applications:
‘Many of our members are still reporting significant problems with CCMS, but we have heard from those working in public children law that the system has been improved for this type of application after lobbying from Resolution, the Association of Lawyers for Children, and many others.
We’re pleased that the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has taken the sensible decision to only make public children law applications mandatory from February next year. Delaying the mandatory start date for the rest of the legal aid applications will hopefully give the LAA time to rectify the serious issues that still remain in the system.’
At present, 73% of Special Children Act cases are already submitted through the CCMS. It is estimated that, upon making CCMS use mandatory for such cases, over 75% of all civil submissions will be made electronically.
The full statement is available to view and download here