Costs News

04 June 2015
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CCMS improvements “will make little difference”

Legal Aid Agency (LAA) “improvements” to the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) do not scratch the surface of the problems with it, the chairman of the ACL’s legal aid group has said.

The LAA said it was acting to help the growing number of providers using the CCMS for civil applications; more than 50% of new applications are now being submitted on CCMS, with 1,066 organisations submitting nearly 40,000 new civil applications in all, and more than 2,000 bills are being processed on a weekly basis.

In an update issued last week, the LAA listed a series of changes:
• Forward button: Available from this week, the button allows users to move forward through the means and merits interviews to the last question answered without clicking ‘next’;

• Means and merits interviews: reducing the number of screens to make it quicker to navigate through the interviews;

• Amendments process: allowing users to allocate costs to advocates and do means reassessments while other amendments are in progress;

• Changes to the PDF copy of the bill users can print before submitting a claim which will make the bill easier to review;

• Billing interviews: reducing the number of screens and making it easier to navigate.

The LAA said it is also working with software vendors involved in the pilot to release the bulk uploading of bills to more of their clients: “We’re finalising a testing process to support other organisations who wish to develop a CCMS compatible product,” it said.

Finally, it is investigating a mobile version of CCMS to allow users to create part of the application away from the office.

Paul Seddon, chair of the ACL’s legal aid group and author of the recent ACL report highlighting the major shortcomings of the CCMS, said: “There are only five improvements listed and two of those relate to billing. These improvements seem minor, not major, and the two relating to billing are peripheral to key problems highlighted in our report.

“They barely scratch the surface of the work that is required to make this system acceptable to use by October 2015, and this does not give me any confidence that the necessary fixes are going to be made in time (if ever).”

More information about the changes can be found on the ‘Enhancing CCMS’ page of the CCMS website.

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