LASPO Order 2014 – Residence test for legal aid

Royal Courts of Justice The draft Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) Order 2014, is being considered in the House of Lords. If approved, this will introduce a new residence test for applicants for civil legal aid from the 4th August 2014. This will restrict access to legal aid for persons with less than 12 months lawful residence.

For family mediation services two forms will be affected – the CIVMeans7 and CW5. Revised versions of the forms (CIVMeans7 version 9 and CW5 version 4) are currently awaiting release, which introduce additional sections for the residence test. As more details become available and the forms are released, you will find more details below.

Details on the evidence requirements in relation to this can be found in a document on the Government legislation site.

Update 15th July

Residence Test for Civil legal aid found to be unlawful & discrimination

In a powerful judgment delivered today the Divisional Court has confirmed that Government proposals to introduce a “residence test” for civil legal aid are unlawful. The thrust of those proposals was to prevent those who could not prove 12 months lawful residence in the UK from accessing the legal aid scheme.

Proposals to introduce legal aid residence test are unlawful and discriminatory. More can be found on this story on the Public Law Project website.

Updated 17th July
The MoJ have issued a bulletin stating they intend to appeal the judgement, but in the meantime all references to the Residence Test have been withdrawn from legal aid forms.
The full details of the MoJ bulletin can be read here.

For family mediation services the changes were due to affect the CivMeans7 and CW5 forms – which were introduced as part of the simpler classification system on the 2nd April 2014.

CARMing effect after LASPO

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) Reforms bill has radically changed the legal landscape. Even in family meditation (where legal aid still remains) LASPO has had a dramatic effect. In this blog, we examine the effects of LASPO for family mediation services. When life deals you lemons, make lemonade?

For family mediation, there have been significant implications as a result of LASPO:

  1. Withdrawal of funding code referrals. Not only did this provide a payment for each eligible case, it more importantly provided a source of referrals. For services which obtained LAA contacts in December and April, the lack of funding code referrals won’t have such a notable effect. For existing services, this has made a significant loss.
  2. Drying up of referrals and LASPO changes have resulted in a general misconception that all legal aid has been withdrawn. Consequently solicitors and the general public have stopped referring to family mediation services.

Virtually overnight, this has had a massive impact on family mediation services – especially those providing legal aid. Some family mediation services have reported financial losses for the first time in ten years.

Helping clients choose mediation
After the initial contact, mediation services need to ensure that if appropriate, clients start the mediation process. Where mediation is inappropriate, signposting is provided towards alternative avenues. Initial conversations mostly take place over the telephone, often battling with the client’s misconception of what mediation is. This has to be overcome before the mediation process can start.

CARM logoProfessor Elizabeth Stokoe of Loughborough University has been researching Conversational Analysis for the past ten years, predominantly in the field of neighbourhood mediation. More recently she has been applying her techniques to family mediation with fascinating results. By analysing telephone conversations using the Conversation Analytic Role-play Method (CARM©), she has demonstrated how and where these conversations can break-down. This research has the potential to assist the initial conversations, and draw the right clients into mediation. To demonstrate the relevance of CARM©  in family mediation, Liz has been holding sessions with family mediators around the country.

Having attended two sessions, it’s been incredible to see how applying conversation analysis is vital to family mediation. Using audio recordings from community mediation, she highlights how essential the initial conversation in terms of :

  • Scaffolding the client’s conversation
  • Making space for client projects
  • Ensuring correct responses are given to client slots during the conversation

Last month BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Life Scientific‘ featured Liz Stokoe and her research as a conversation analyst. Stephen Anderson having recently hosted one of the sessions, was interviewed for the program. “This was the first training where I was absolutely in awe of the information I was receiving.” he said. Liz touched on the 7% rule – the myth that communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal, providing examples that prove this is totally unfounded.

With family mediation facing new pressures, it’s clear that CARM©  can have a significant impact for family mediation:

  • Converting initial enquiries into mediation, then
  • Provide practical conversational techniques through the mediation process

Clearly the introduction of conversational skills to the family mediation process is not going to turn around a mediation service on its own. However, changing times calls for changing practices, and this is a practical process which will make a difference.

Having seen first-hand the clear benefits that CARM© bring, next month we will be starting a research project to see how mediation services can practically benefit from improved client communication methods.

To follow our latest news, sign up to our Enewsletter.

Legal Aid Reform changes for Family Mediation – latest news

The effect of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) comes into effect from 1st April 2013. If you’re interested in reading specific details of the Act then you can find more information on the government website.

This special blog is designed to keep you updated of the changes and any updates issued by the Legal Services Commission (rebranded as Legal Aid Agency from the 1st April 2013), related to Family Mediation. It won’t quite be like the interactive service provided by the BBC on polling day! However when we receive any information related to form updates, useful links, etc will be posting them here. We expect things to be quite ‘fluid’ over the next week  – so why not add this page as a favourite! If you’re on Twitter, then why not follow us at @progressmediate which we will use to announce updates.

Latest Form Revisions (MoJ and LAA)

Civil Means7 version 8 (CIVMEANS7) – download

Controlled Work 5 version 3 (CW5) – download

FM1 version 04.13 – download [issued by the MoJ rather than the LAA]

LAA Monthly Reports

Revised forms have been created for the Consolidated Work report and Work Start form, however March 2013 data needs to be completed using Consolidated Version 3 August 2004, and Work Start Version 1 October 2002. The revised monthly report and form to be used from April 2013 can be found below:

Consolidated Work report – Version 4 April 2013

Work Start form – Version 2 April 2013

Eligibility Calculator

The new Civil Eligibility calculator tool for Legal Aid Agency (LAA) providers is available on the Gov.uk website. The calculator for public use can be accessed using the new online LAA calculator.

Important update 4/4/13

There are currently two issues affecting people using the LAA calculator:

  • Issue 1 : Unable to access the site using Internet Explorer.  This results from the use of Java scripting on the website. The simply solution is to enable Java scripting in the security settings of the browser. However, it may be better to do this by adding the calculator http://civil-eligibility-calculator.justice.gov.uk/ to the list of Trusted sites, then changing the security settings to enable Java scripting for the Trusted sites.
  • Issue 2: Server error you reach the final stage and attempt to print the results of the calculator on the CW1, CW2, CLSAPP6 or CLSM7 forms. When you click on one of these buttons a server error screen is displayed. For the present, we would suggest clicking on the ‘Print full calculation’ link until the issue has been fixed. 

Guidance for Eligibility

The MoJ guide for assessing your client’s eligibility can be found at the Checking civil eligibility section. The following is a direct link to the ‘Guide to Determining Financial Eligibility for Controlled Work and Family Mediation April 2013‘, released 1st April 2013, version 1. It’s quite a tricky document to find unless you know what you’re looking for…

The MoJ have also released Keycard 49 as a quick reference point for assessing financial eligibility.

Legal aid reform implementation FAQs

The LAR Implementation FAQ can be downloaed from the MoJ website here. This was last updated on the 19th April 2013.

 

Progress Mediation is a web-based tool specifically designed for managing the administration of family mediation. It supports both private and legal aid cases.

Overview of Legal Aid Reform changes to Family Mediation

Following on from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, a number of changes will come into effect from 1st April this year for Family Mediation.

To help visualise these changes, we’ve created the ‘Sixty second overview of the Legal Aid Reform changes to family Mediation’. This simplified diagram summarises the changes to existing processes, payments and forms for family mediation from 1st April 2013. Since the Legal Services Communission is being renamed as the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) from 1st April, this is shown on the diagram.

Sixty second overview of the Legal Aid Reform changes to family Mediation

As a case management service provider, we have been given early access to forthcoming processes and forms.

This week we started work integrating the changes into Progress Mediation. This requires translating changes in processes into code, and converting the new Legal Service Commission forms into integrated templates. We can then use the templates to generate the forms and populate with client data before printing – thus reducing case administration.

In summary:

a) The App7 form has been replaced by the CW5 – Help with Family Mediation

b) Three forms have been revised – Consolidate Work, Work Start and Means 7

c) The Willingness payment for funding code referrals has been withdrawn

d) Funding code referrals have been withdrawn

For more information on how case management systems can help manage Legal Aid contracts, why not visit our website  – www.progressmediation.co.uk and take the product tour.