Full release of online accounts pilot phase 2 products and important changes to paper account process

Monday, Jun 20, 2016

This update gives information on the following online accounts products and developments:

Phase 2 products

We previously notified  the profession that our phase 2 pilot would commence on 1 April 2016.  As with our phase 1 pilot, the firms participating have provided us with feedback.

As we are now satisfied that the new screens are performing well we plan to roll out the phase 2 products to all firms on 24 June 2016.

The products that were trialled in phase 2 were:

  • Solemn Accounts
  • Summary Time and Line

What account types can now be submitted using the new screens?

With effect from, 24 June 2016, the following final accounts can now be submitted using the new screens:

  • Solemn (including prison opt-out application)
  • Summary Time and Line

Until further notice the following account type should not be submitted online

  • Solemn reduced to summary where a guilty plea entered

Paper synopsis switch off – 21 June 2016

Our previous update with guidance on the new paper account process and its benefits also explained that from the 1 April we would no longer automatically issue an account synopsis for certain account types and that it was our intention to switch of the facility to print a paper synopsis. 

With effect from 21 June 2016 you will no longer receive or be able to print a paper synopsis for the following account types:

  • All A&A and time and line ABWOR accounts covering children’s and criminal advice.
  • Civil A&A and Civil ABWOR accounts where the case did not proceed to a full grant of legal aid.
  • Solemn criminal accounts
  • Summary criminal time & line

To submit a paper account for the above account types you will now only be able to do this using the electronic synopsis.

What if my account has been sent but has still to arrive?

We will continue to register accounts we receive with an old paper synopsis from today until Friday 8 July 2016.  Accounts received with a paper synopsis after this time will be returned unregistered.

How will I know whether I should submit a paper account or an account using the electronic synopsis?

When submitting a paper account you should do the following:

  • Open the accounts tab
  • Enter the LARN for the account you are submitting
  • Unless directed to send a paper account you should complete the electronic synopsis and send the account with the registration document

What are the benefits of the new process for paper accounts?

In comparison to the current process the new paper process will provide the following benefits to firms:

  • You will now be able to complete the ‘paper synopsis’ online.
  • You will receive a notification confirming that your paper account has been received
  • You will be able to track the progress of your account
  • Simplified process for submitting ‘Nil’ accounts

We would therefore encourage firms to familiarise themselves with the new process for paper accounts. Guidance on how to complete the electronic synopsis is available on our Vimeo channel.

Phase 3 launch

Our plan is to launch the phase 3 products in several stages.  Phase 3 of our accounts re-development will begin on 24 June. The first products that we plan to release in Phase 3 are:

  • Advice and Assistance hardship application
  • Criminal Appeals

The initial phase 3 products have been designed to use the same functionality as that used in the phase 1 and 2 account types.  As a result of this we will not be piloting these screens and we plan to roll out the initial phase 3 products to the full profession.

Changes to print options for online negotiations

As a result of feedback obtained from firms we have made changes to the available print options for negotiations.  To print the full account: select the ‘print’ button.  If you only want to print a copy of any abated entries select ‘print negotiation’.

When you click on ‘print’ or ‘print negotiation’ your printing options will open for you to select. To print the account you should select the ‘print’ option that appears at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

If you intend to respond to negotiations, for these to be included in the printable version, enter text then click ‘save draft’.

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Change to how contributions will deduct from A&A and ABWOR accounts where reimbursements have been claimed

We have now changed the point at which we will deduct the applicant’s contribution from your account, if you have claimed a reimbursement of outlays. 

When you submit an A&A or ABWOR account there is a hierarchy of payments that dictates the amount that can be paid towards your account from the legal aid fund.  If your client has a contribution, you should first seek payment from the applicant’s contribution, this includes any claim for reimbursement of outlays.

The applicant’s contribution will now be deducted from the first payment before we release any sums from the Fund.  In practice, this now means that where you submit a reimbursement of outlays we will deduct the contribution at that point.

This change only applies to accounts submitted using the redevelopment screens. Contributions will continue to deduct from the final account where there is no reimbursement.

Training and guidance

We have set up a guidance section on our website where you will be able to access training videos and interactive PDFs for the Phase 1 and 2 products as well as the new paper account process.

Please open this 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.

WEBINAR’s are available for the products rolled out in phase 1 as well as the phase 2 products.

For further information or to arrange a webinar, please contact:

Christine Connerton, Digital Services Marketing Officer: connertonch@slab.org.uk

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