Costs News

15 July 2021
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News in brief - 15.07.2021

Legal Aid Agency bids to reduce number of civil bills it rejects

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is improving its monitoring of civil bill rejects in a bid to reduce their number, it has announced.

The changes will update the gov.uk guidance page on billing claims, a provider checklist to help with submissions and the reject process to reduce the number of ‘further information requests’.

“The aim is to gather more accurate information on returned civil claims and speed up payments to providers by helping to get it right first time,” the agency said.

A checklist for Client and Cost Management is available with a two-stage checking process. Claims failing at stage 1 will be returned for amendment or additional information, while those that fail at stage 2 will be returned.

“You may notice an increase in the percentage of rejects recorded on your contract performance provider activity report (PAR) as a result of these changes,” the LAA said “This is because the new process includes improved reject reasons and requests for further information that were not historically included in your reported reject figure.

“Our commitment is to continue to work with providers to pay more bills first time. We see this change as a positive step in allowing us to continue doing that.”

 

Public wants more stringent checks on all lawyers’ continuing competence

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has continued to build its case for greater checks of all lawyers’ ongoing competence by publishing qualitative and quantitative research that showed overwhelming public support for lawyers having to demonstrate more actively than now that they remain competent.

There was surprise at the lack of consistent and mandatory requirements for different types of lawyers, especially compared to other regulated professions and that existing arrangements “leave room for incompetence or lack of competence to go undetected and unchallenged”.

An in-depth public panel said there should be mandatory requirements, regular checks and consistent requirements across all lawyers, covering different types of lawyer and areas of law. These should include a core set of baseline standards alongside tailored requirements.

The panel supported mandatory CPD requirements with an assessment element, finding the current rules “patchy” amid concerns that regulators did not consistently check the training and development activities lawyers complete.

It also liked re-certification linked to competence like doctors to drive up competence overall and root out poor performers.

The LSB plans to test policy proposals with stakeholders ahead of a formal consultation later this year.

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