The Legal Aid Agency’s decision to delay the compulsory adopting of its Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) has been welcomed as a “good start” by the ACL’s legal aid group, which has been at the forefront of calling for changes to it.
The LAA announced last Friday that it was delaying the date from which civil legal aid providers, chambers and other CCMS users will be required to use CCMS for all new casework from 1 October 2015 until 1 February 2016.
It said: “This follows discussions with representative bodies and feedback from those using the system who have asked for more time to prepare for the system and improvements to be embedded before mandation.”
The LAA told users that the extra time will allow users to take advantage of improvements “as effectively as possible”, become more experienced in using CCMS before it becomes compulsory and “adapt your business practices to online working”. It “strongly” recommends that users continue using CCMS to build up experience between now and February.
It also indicated that 1 February 2016 was written in stone: “The Legal Aid Agency has made a strong commitment to online working for both civil and criminal legal aid. We do not anticipate further delays.”
ACL legal aid group chairman Paul Seddon said: “We welcome the delay to making CCMS compulsory and the improvements that the LAA has committed to is a good start. However, there is a long way to go in comparatively very little time to make the many more changes needed so that this system is fit for use. A great deal of commitment to making real change is required of the LAA in order to meet the new deadline.”