In 2013, I attended a Legal Aid Practitioners Group Conference in Manchester where CCMS was one of the main subjects up for discussion. The panel of assorted senior LAA officers told us about the CCMS pilot project. I listened and took it in. A modern way of making applications? Well, it probably could be more convenient and more efficient I thought. The LAA accepted then that there were a number of issues with the system, but were confident that they could be resolved. The message was very clear: “This is a major project…we’re committed to this…we’re spending lots of money on it…and it will become mandatory, so prepare yourselves.”
The Legal Aid Agency (“the LAA”) announced some time ago that it would be introducing a Client & Costs Management System (“CCMS”) by which practitioners would make applications for legal aid online as a replacement for the current system of paper application forms. Following a pilot scheme in the North East starting Autumn 2012, the system was rolled out nationally. CLP began to use the system in late 2014 to give ourselves 10 or so months to prepare for the date of mandatory use being October 2015.
This Conference organised by Leeds Gypsy and Traveller exchange took place at the offices of the Traveller Movement in London on 25 February 2016.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has stated: “Legal aid has been referred to as the forgotten pillar of the welfare state. It is time to challenge that perception. The principles of access to justice and human rights for all is precisely for what Labour stands.” He has set up a Commission to review the disastrous chages to civil legal aid. See the No Mad Laws Website at:-
This important report commissioned by the National Inclusion Health Board of the Department of Health and written by the Traveller Movement and Bucks New University has just been published. It provides an important up to date position on this subject. Here are some useful extracts from the report:
Lord Bach, former Legal Aid Minister in the last Labour Government, has set up a Commission to look into Legal Aid on behalf of the Labour Party.
The Housing and Planning Bill which is going through Parliament includes provisions to vastly reduce security of tenure for council tenants. These provisions are discussed on the Nearly Legal Housing Law website at:-
Plans to slash the number of law firms allowed to do criminal legal aid work at police stations and magistrates’ courts have been dropped, while an 8.75% cut to legal aid fees criminal lawyers earn has been suspended for a year.
In September 2013 the Lord Chancellor proposed bringing in a residence test with regard to the provision of Legal Aid. The proposal involved an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPOA) 2012 by means of a statutory instrument. Public Law Project (PLP) took a challenge to this proposal on the basis that it was outside the aims of LASPOA 2012 and that it was discriminatory. Before the High Court PLP were successful. The Lord Chancellor appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal allowed this appeal.
Appeals were taken to the Court of Appeal by A and also by SR, PR and W challenging the decisions to apply the bedroom tax in their cases with regard to extra bedrooms they had. A had suffered from very extreme domestic violence and was in what was known as a Sanctuary Scheme and had a safe room in her house. SR and PR were the grandparents of W who is a severely disabled child. They had an extra bedroom for carers who stayed overnight. The case centred on the fact that these two types of case did not come under the exceptions contained in Regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and, thus, the appellants had part of their housing benefit removed because of the extra room.