Legal Aid Agency – Keycard 56

Last week we became aware of a revised Legal Aid Keycard, which became applicable from 6th April 2020.

The keycard details the latest allowance rates for dependants and employment expenses. To download the latest version of the keycard click here.

Our family mediation online case management system, Progress Mediation, integrates these values in the integrated Means7 Calculator tool. This can be used to determine the client financial eligibility, exporting the completed form for signing. To find out more visit our Product Tour.

Updated Notice of [intention to proceed with] a financial application – aka Form A

The MoJ have this week (w/c 1st June) released an updated version of ‘The Notice of [intention to proceed with] a financial application to which the standard procedure applies’ – otherwise known as Form A.

We’ve converted the form into a template, to enable our case management system to insert the mediator’s details onto the form, along with case information to prevent the form being used for other applications, once saved in PDF format.

The latest Form A can be downloaded from the MoJ pages on the Government website. If you’d like to know more information on how case management can help with case administration, then please get in touch.

Online mediation location classification for Legal Aid cases

As a consequence of the Covid:19, the Legal Aid agency provided new guidance for family mediation services to provide online mediation.

With the March bulk upload submission many mediation services are finding the MIAM cases being rejected by the CWA submission system because the location is not a formally recognised outreach location.

Several mediation services have fed back responses from their contract managers, suggesting to use the main office location (000) until clear guidance has been issued. Another contract manager suggested using the outreach location that would have been used for a face to face meeting if it had been possible, which would ensure that statistics for outreach locations are captured.

Progress Mediation allows the location of each appointment to be linked to a location on the system, and automated reminders are sent out to clients detailing where the MIAM or mediation will be taking place.

To prevent confusion, mediation services have been creating new locations to symbolize online mediation, so the reminder shows that it is Skype or Zoom. To save having to create multiple locations for online meetings which are linked to different outreach location codes, we recommend that mediation services create a single online location, linked to the main office.

MIAM’s are automatically pulled into the bulk online submission file ready for upload to the Legal Aid portal, specifying the main office location.

LAA family mediation update : Reasons for Means7 Signature format

Following a meeting between the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) on Friday of last week, the FMC yesterday released an update on the meeting.

In an effort to help mediation services support clients with legal aid cases, the Legal Aid Agency has published guidance covering the issue of obtaining signatures. They have confirmed that electronic signatures is now valid.

In the event that an electronic signature could not be obtained an email from the client showing the following is satisfactory:
a. an intent to take up the offer of legally aided family mediation (not just the expectation),
b. plus the client’s name with the intention that it is considered to be a signature, which should be contained in the body of the email. They have stated that ‘Whatever route to obtain the signature is obtained, the reason for this should be recorded on the case file.’

To support the new guidance, we’ve issued a live update in the Intake Stage of Progress Mediation.

This is one of the many benefits of using a hosted system, we’re able to provide quick updates as new guidance or changes are introduced, without the need for you to download and install software patches.

For more information on how Progress Mediation can help with case management, including support for the bulk monthly online submission to the LAA, please get in touch.

LAA – New keycard 54 valid from 9th April 2018

The LAA keycard is intended as a quick reference point for making financial determinations for those forms of civil legal services for which the provider has responsibility for Legal Help, Help at Court, Family Help (lower), Help with Family Mediation and Family Mediation.

The main eligibility limits from 9th April 2018 are as follows:

The revised fixed rate allowances (per month) from 9th April 2018 are as follows:

More details on the updates can be found on the LAA website in the Keycard 54 general information document.

Progress Mediation services can edit the allowances in System Settings > More settings > Progress settings

 

Legal Aid family mediation – new contracts starting September 2018

On 20th January 2017 the government published information on intentions for civil legal aid contracts from April 2018, stating that further information on the future of family mediation services would follow. Many took this as a warning sign for the future of legal aid for family mediation.

On Monday the government published new information detailing intentions for family mediation legal aid contracts from April 2018. This details the delivery of new family mediation services under the new 2018 Standard Civil Contract (“Contract”) to commence from 1 April 2018. The statement includes:

“The government remains committed to family mediation as a key route to helping family disputes avoid court proceedings. We will therefore not make significant changes to how family mediation services are delivered under current contracts.”

Clearly a good sign for existing family mediation services with legal aid contracts, and those wishing to start new contracts.

One of the major changes is the removal of the requirement for the Mediation Quality Mark,  instead

“…the Contract will require mediators and mediation organisations meet the standards set out by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and the Family Mediation Standards Board.”

The information proposed a timetable for services applying for the new contracts, commencing with the new SQ stage opening in April 2017.

However, as a result of Brexit, the timetable for the process was modified and in August a revised timetable was published. This included the following sections –

  • Selection Questionnaire (SQ)
  • Invitation to Tender (ITT)
  • Verification process

The revised timetable is shown below:

There is only a week to go before the end of the tendering process, which closes on Friday10th November at 5pm.

Full details of the contract tendering process can be found on the Civil 2018 Contracts Tender page.

Progress Mediation has been helping support mediation services comply with their legal aid contracts for over five years. If your family mediation service is considering applying for a legal contract, we’re here to help. Our mobile software was launched in January 2016 to help keep you in touch with your workload whilst on the move.

The Legal Aid Agency has removed the limits on the number of mediation matters that services can start a contract with. Therefore family mediation services will not be required to bid for a specific volume of work – ensuring smaller services can still bid for contracts. This matches our ethos of growing with you as your service grows. You can pick the functionality from our modules and number of users that suits you.

If you’re still considering whether a Legal Aid Contract is for you, or whether the paperwork is manageable, why not get in touch.

LAA portal update – new login credentials

The online LAA Portal is the single sign on tool for accessing CCMS, CWA, Eforms and CCLF systems. The Portal is being upgraded to:

  • Increase stability
  • Speed up log in times
  • Create a more user-friendly password reset process
  • Provide status bars for all applications and give live information on any issues affecting performance

The upgrade will require an IT outage to the Portal and all the applications accessed through it. We have looked to do this during an off-peak period in order to cause minimal disruption.

A large number of users have now been migrated to the upgraded Portal, with remaining users scheduled to be migrated in September. You will need to access the new Portal from today (11 September 2017) for CCMS, CWA, CCLF EMI and Eforms via the upgraded portal.

LAA Audit Update : MIAM type – the choice is not yours…

In the past couple of days we’ve had feedback from a family mediation service, using Progress Mediation, that received a very comprehensive LAA audit. One of the areas highlighted was the MIAM assessment types (alone or separate) assigned to a case is now being closely inspected.

Previous conversations with Terry Davis (when the LAA was the LSC) when asked for clarification, had stated that setting the assessment type for a case where only one of the parties is assessed, it could be marked as separate, simplifying the process if the partner decides at a later stage to attend an assessment. It now appears that auditors are looking more closely at these situations and expecting the assessment type to be set as ‘alone’.

This does however cause potential issues if the partner attends assessment to ensure that the assessment type for the case is modified accordingly.

We’re currently updating Progress Mediation to generate a warning when the partner attends assessment, for the user to update the case assessment type.

For more information about how case management can ease the pressures of case management, why not visit our homepage.

Update 31/07/17

On Friday we issued a live software update which checks the mediation type, displaying a warning if the mediation date/s don’t align with the mediation type defined:

However if the mediator knows that the partner will be attending in the next few days, they’re able to override the mediation type.

Update 05/09/17

This area will be officially clarified by the LAA when the guidance is next issued. In the meantime :

‘Alone’ should be used where only the client has agreed (and not the partner/s) to mediation, and attends a MIAM.

 

LAA – Changes to bulk upload spreadsheet

The 2010 Standard Civil Contract (Mediation) will introduce a new schedule reference, which will be reported for the submission period APR-2017 for submissions completed from 1st May onwards. Mediation services using Progress Mediation won’t notice any differences for creating the monthly bulk upload submission file. For mediation services creating bulk upload spreadsheets, the schedule references will need to change to the format NANNNA/MEDI2010/17, where NANNNA is the main office account number.

The Legal Aid Agency have issued a new bulk upload spreadsheet this morning for use by services who don’t use a case management system. This will shortly be available on the GOV website. However, in the meantime they have made a version available to official software vendors. We’ve made this available on our website for downloading:

Bulkload spreedsheet provider release v1 20

The spreadsheet provides a manual method for recording cases, enabling the monthly return to be completed. If you’re seeing an increase in your monthly case submissions, case management systems can take any the stresses of the monthly return by gathering information throughout the course of the month, then automatically generating the bulkload return information for you. For more information visit Progress Mediation 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.