17 May 2018
This update contains information about the following system changes that will go live on the evening of 23 May:
We are starting to make changes to the way we deal with civil legal aid applications and the information received in support of them. This is to try and reduce the number of letters sent to you and your clients when applications are first submitted.
The changes are to SLAB’s side of the application process. They don’t require you to do anything different but will hopefully be of benefit to you.
When an application is made there will now be an automatic generation of a legal aid reference number (LARN) unless there are possible duplicate applications we need to check first.
Solicitors have told us that getting LARNs earlier will have benefits for them, such as when claiming fee exemption at court and allowing them to open files more quickly.
As you will receive the reference number straight away, this means that you will be able to upload attachments immediately and they will be attached to the applications without delay. When we review the application at the registration stage, it means that we will see the attachments and won’t need to delay or reject the application because the attachments haven’t been sent to us.
In addition, applications received will now be held for a short period to allow you/the applicant to provide further information before a letter is sent requesting outstanding information.
This will reduce the current practice which can involve issuing letters each time an additional piece of supporting documentation is received.
The new process is scheduled to come online from 24 May 2018.
Currently, it is possible for several letters to be sent by us at the initial stage in the application process. Known as rejection letters, these are to tell the applicant/solicitor about required information that is still missing from the application. The multiple letters are generated, in part, because we need to manually generate a LARN following submission of an application.
This will not happen initially in some cases, particularly where an applicant has a number of applications outstanding. We need to make sure that it is appropriate for a new LARN to be generated and we will still need to look at these individually.
From 24 May those applications automatically issued with a LARN when an application is submitted will be able to upload supporting documentation without delay. When the LARN is issued we will hold off looking at the application for a short period to allow you/the applicant to provide all available information before we decide whether the application can be placed under assessment. It is only if the application is still incomplete after this period that we will issue a letter requesting the outstanding documents/information. The holding period is likely to be around 48 hours but we will be assessing this on implementation to ensure it works best for SLAB and the profession.
We will still prioritise urgent applications and the ‘holding period’ will not affect us processing SU4 requests
If you have any questions about this change to our processes please contact Wendy Dalgleish on 0131 240 1894, or by email at DalgleishWe@slab.org.uk
To comply with the new data protection legislation, which includes the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Bill when it becomes an Act, we have revised the wording of the data protection notice and declarations in the legal aid application printable summaries. Where the printable summary is printed prior to submission of the application, the applicant and solicitor signed name and date will be blank. If the summary is printed post-submission, the name and date of signing will be automatically entered.
The data protection notices on the printable forms and online declarations available from our website will also be updated. These revised versions will be published shortly and we will update you when they are online. A webpage containing information on how we process data and the rights of applicants and assisted persons under the new legislation will also be added so you can direct your clients to this if they have any queries.
Civil block fees
The next product being released on the evening of 23rd May is civil block fees including the negotiation fee chargeable where no action has been raised. Initially you will only be able to submit a civil block fee when using the redevelopment screens where:
Otherwise you will be directed to the current online screens. For some work items there will be a mandatory text box that will ask for additional information to be inserted. This will help us to ensure that we have all the information needed to assess the account.
As part of the redevelopment of civil accounts we are introducing a number of enhancements, one of which is changes to the way you add advocacy time to a continued motion fee under block 3a.iii.
To add additional advocacy you should now select the work item; Motions and Minutes etc – 3a.iii. Thereafter attendance or continuation’
Where fee 3a.iii has been added to an account you should click the ‘aggregate work items’ tool’ prior to submission. The system will then display the correct amount claimed.
Please note we cannot accept a mix of paper and online claims. You must continue to submit all accounts for any given case on the format the first claim was made.
The guidance section on our website currently contains training videos and interactive PDFs for the accounts products that are now live.
Please open the Guidance page and bookmark it so that you are able to access it easily whenever necessary. A link to the guidance section has also been added to the LAOL login screen.
Webinars are currently available for the products previously rolled out. We plan to host webinar’s for the new civil accounts screens and we will provide you with dates when we plan to hold shortly.
For further information or to arrange a webinar on any of the existing live account products, please contact: Christine Connerton, Digital Services Marketing Officer email@example.com