New LAA 2018 mediation contracts support postal & remote applications

From 1st September it became a requirement to record Postal Application information for both client and partners for family mediation legal aid cases. These are then required to be submitted to the Legal Aid Agency as part of your monthly submissions.

Standard Civil Contract 2018 specification

As part of the new 2018 contracts, the LAA have released a new contract specification which outlines the mediation service operating requirements. Section 3.15 titled ‘Acceptance of Applications other than in person’, details that :

“an application for Controlled Work may be accepted via post, fax, email or other such method of communication as we may agree from time to time where the Client requests that the application is made in this way and it is not necessary for the interests of the Client or his or her case to attend you in person.”

It’s worth noting that section 3.17 it details that 

“the number of Matters where your Client does not attend you in person either because you accept an application under Paragraph 3.15 or provide telephone or email advice under Paragraph 3.18, must not exceed 25% of your total Matters opened in any Schedule period.”

LAA support for remote communication

As part of the new 2018 contracts, the LAA also for the first time supports providing

“… advice to a Client over the telephone, by email or via other means of remote communication before that Client has signed the Application Form”

This is a huge step forward for the LAA acknowledging the use of Skype and other forms of ‘remote communication’ within the mediation process. Section 3.19 also states that

“The Client does not have to attend your Office to sign the Application Form after having been given advice in the manner set out in Paragraph 3.18. You may send the Application Form to your Client, after you have given the advice, for signature and return, subject to Paragraph 3.15.”

Support for postal application at the intake stage

Progress Mediation provides support for tracking postal applications simplifying the process of case management for family mediation and 6 other forms of mediation using Progress Mediation 4 All.

For more information please visit our main website.

Family mediation outreach locations disappear from Legal Aid CWA

A number of family mediation services have reported issues over the past couple of months when uploading their monthly legal aid bulk submissions to the Legal Aid Agency’s Controlled Work and Administration (CWA) digital portal.

The error Invalid ‘Outreach location’ is displayed alongside each assessment or mediation that assigned to outreach locations rather than the main office.

The Outreach Location is not a current or previously valid outreach location for your office. Where work is not done at an outreach location, a code of 000 should be entered.

Curiously, the error appears to be recently introduced, and in all cases the associated outreach locations have been used for previous monthly submissions without issue. It appears that for some family mediation services, that outreach locations have been deleted from the CWA system. Occasionally one or two locations, for other services every location.

The LAA are aware of the issue, commenting that a a small number of similar queries have been highlighted in the past couple of months, and the mediation team are investigating.

The short term solution is to modify the bulk xml document, changing all the outreach locations to ‘000’ [zero zero zero].

<outcomeItem name=”OUTREACH”>000</outcomeItem>

Opening an xml document can sometimes be a little tricky on Windows computers, as by default the computer wants to open the document as a webpage. We’ve found that Notepad ++ is a great free utility, and using the search facility can easily find all the references.

Clearly something that the LAA will need to resolve asap.

Creation of the monthly online submissions file can either be filled in using special spreadsheet provided by the Legal Aid Agency, or using dedicated case management software (such as Progress Mediation) which speeds up process of creating the online submission bulk upload file.

Updated : 10th May 2017

A technical issue has been identified with the Outreach Location code on some schedules which prevents the submission of mediation claims for Outreach work on CWA. The fix is due to be implemented in the evening of Monday 15th May, and should enable submissions for April on Tuesday 16th May.

 

We’re ready for the transition to LAA family mediation online returns

online sub6Last week, the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) opened it’s doors for software vendors to provide test data to the new on-line submission system. The testing phase enables case management providers to validate the new style data format generated by their case management systems on the Contracted Work and Administration (CWA) system.

During the past couple of months we’ve been updating Progress Mediation to generate the new style bulk upload monthly return in XML format. Following trial submissions over the past couple of days, we received confirmation from the LAA this morning that our latest submission successfully validated on the system. The first software provider to supply a file validating 100% successfully for family mediation on the CWA system. We can therefore pleased to announce that Progress Mediation is fully compliant for new Legal Aid Agency requirements moving to online submissions.

In a news update today from the Legal Aid Agency, it was announced that online submissions have been delayed to provide additional time for testing, preventing potential delays in payments to services. The first submissions via Mediation Online will now be the March 2015 submissions (made in April) as opposed to the February 2015 submissions (made in March).

To read more about the move to LAA Online Submissions for family mediation, read our previous blog.

For more information on how Progress Mediation can help you in the transition to online submissions, please get in touch.