SLAB Operational Performance Overview Reports (SOPOR)

Description of the performance measures in SOPOR

Information in the reports is grouped by operational area and type of measure.

The top half reports on the key legal aid applications areas: Civil; Summary Criminal; Solemn Criminal and Children’s. The bottom half reports on accounts areas.

We made some changes to how we report our performance. The first update in the new format is Q1 2019-20.

You can also find out about the background to the reports in our update from January 2019.

  • Guide to application information in the SOPOR reports

    First Decision Average Duration

    The key duration shown for applications is the average time, in calendar days, from the receipt of a main legal aid application by us, to when we take the first decision on it.

    This duration includes all weekends and holidays. It also includes any period where we are waiting for a response because we are asking the solicitor, or applicant, for more information to help us take the decision.

    This indicator measures both the workflow performance by us but also the degree to which solicitors and applicants are managing to provide all necessary information for decisions to be taken.

    Indication of how well performing: LOWER is better.

    First Decision - % Granted

    The first decision on a legal aid application can be one of three main types: grant; refuse; or not consider due to lack of information. The first decision granted measure is the number of grants as a percentage of the total number of first decisions in the period.

    This indicator measures the effectiveness with which we are facilitating solicitors to make appropriate and complete applications – i.e. getting it right first time.

    Indication of how well performing: HIGHER is better.

    First Decision - % Requiring Further Work

    The requiring further work measure is the number of cases requiring further work as a percentage of the total number of first decisions in the period.

    Further work (FW) means any work on a case after the first decision has been taken. For example if a case is refused at first instance and then a review is submitted - assessing the review is treated as further work. Similarly if we ask for more information in determining a case to start and this is not received we will “not consider” the case. At this stage a solicitor can respond and supply more information which we will then look at – again this is considered as further work.

    This indicator measures a number of different key elements of the process:

    • The effectiveness with which we are getting correct applications in the first instance.
    • That we are making correct decisions.
    • The effectiveness with which we are communicating those decisions.

    Poor performance in any of those areas could result in an increase in this ratio.

    Indication of how well performing: LOWER is better.

  • Guide to accounts information in the SOPOR reports

    Average calendar days to bank

    The Initial Assessments duration is a measure of the time from registration of the account to the date payment is received into the solicitor’s bank account. It includes any period where we have asked and are waiting for more information from the solicitor to help us assess the account.

    The Negotiation duration is the same measure but for accounts that are follow-up accounts to negotiate over sums that we have deducted – known as abatements - from initial accounts.

    The Combined duration is the total average duration for all accounts – i.e. both Initial Assessments and Negotiation accounts combined together.

    Indication of how well performing: LOWER is better.

    Initial Assessment - % paid in full

    The paid in full measure is the percentage of accounts that we are able to pay the full amount solicitors are claiming, i.e. without abating them.

    ‘Abatement’ describes the process by which the amount paid by us includes one or more deductions from the amount claimed by a solicitor. This can occur for many different reasons.

    Subsequent negotiations with firms can result in part or all of the sum abated being reinstated, often because we are provided with further information that allows us to be satisfied that a claim is valid or reasonable

    This can be additional information (such as vouching) to support a claim, or an explanation to justify a particular activity which had appeared to us on the face of it to be unnecessary, unreasonable or uneconomical.

    We are required to protect the Legal Aid Fund from unjustified expenditure; however this needs to be undertaken in a manner that is seen to be fair, transparent and done in a consistent and efficient manner.

    Ultimately we will be using the information on what we finally pay against, the original lodged amount and the initial payment to understand how we can ensure more could be paid at the first instance.

    Indication of how well performing: HIGHER is better.

    Negotiations as a % of Initial Assessments

    This measure shows the number of negotiation accounts paid as a percentage of the number of first instance accounts paid in a period.

    This indicator measures a number of different key elements of the process:

    • The effectiveness with which we are getting correct applications in the first instance.
    • That we are making correct decisions.
    • The effectiveness with which we are communicating those decisions.

    Poor performance in any of those areas could result in an increase in this ratio.

    Indication of how well performing: LOWER is better.

  • Guide to solicitor satisfaction and accuracy

    We have trialled a new approach to surveying solicitors about their satisfaction with our service. Solicitors were asked to indicate their satisfaction using a 5-point scale.

    The percent satisfied score reported here is the percent of solicitors who responded either Fairly Satisfied (4) or Very Satisfied (5) on the scale.

    The satisfaction question was targeted separately on a three-month rolling basis at solicitors carrying out Civil work, Criminal work and Children’s work. Within each area one question was asked regarding the applications service and one question was asked regarding the accounts service.

    In the first month we asked the application question and the accounts question of solicitors who had made any civil applications in the past three months. In the second month we did the same for criminal and in the third month we did the same for children’s. Then in the fourth month we went back to civil and repeated the approach.

    We developed this approach to minimise the level of repeat questioning any individual solicitor might receive in one month. We also provided the option for solicitors to respond with open comments in a free-text box.

    Accuracy

    This is being measured by the Independent Checking & Quality Unit (ICQU) team through sampling of cases in both the applications and accounts areas.

    Scoring Accuracy has been given a range of 1 to 4.

    1 = Fundamental error – an error caused an incorrect decision to be taken

    2 = Non-fundamental error – an error was found but this did not result in an incorrect decision

    3 = Issue – a correct decision was taken but some of the justification was inaccurate

    4 = Correct decision taken with the correct justification

    The percentage figure reported is the percent of measurements that are scored 4, i.e. Correct. This is a more discriminating figure compared with the previous implementation of Accuracy when only errors affecting decision, i.e. 1s, were reported as incorrect.

SOPOR reports 2019-20

File Type Size
SOPOR Q1 2019 20 425 KB | 16 August 2019 PDF 425 KB
SOPOR Q2 2019 20 258 KB | 15 November 2019 PDF 258 KB

SOPOR reports 2018-19

File Type Size
SOPOR Q1 2018 19 123 KB | 12 August 2019 PDF 123 KB
SOPOR Q2 2018 19 152 KB | 12 August 2019 PDF 152 KB
SOPOR Q3 2018 19 233 KB | 12 August 2019 PDF 233 KB
SOPOR Q4 2018 19 233 KB | 12 August 2019 PDF 233 KB