Key messages for legal aid suppliers - April 2021

Date published: 07 May 2021

The LSA has issued the key messages for legal aid suppliers for April 2021.

Graphic for legal services agency northern ireland key messages

System availability - SMS services

Practitioners are reminded that LSA have a LAMS SMS Service. This service was established to provide external users of LAMS with an additional communication channel to receive time critical messages relating to system access and availability.

The SMS is separate from LAMS which means that the Agency will be able to send messages to LAMS users regardless of the operational status of LAMS.

For further details on how to sign up to this SMS service see circular LSA 19/19 for solicitors and staff or circular LSA 18/19 for barristers.


New LSA declaration for first time High Court bails

The Legal Services Agency have now issued new declarations which must be submitted with all applications for first time High Court bails. The new ‘Supplier declaration - first time high court bail’ can be found within the ‘Supplier declarations’ page and the ‘Applicant declaration – first time high court bail’ can be located within the ‘Applicant declarations page, both of which are located within the ‘Legal aid supporting documents’ area of the LSANI website.

If you do not use the declarations the full means test will be engaged and will be applied to your application. You cannot use the declarations for subsequent High Court bail applications. The new declaration is for first time High Court bails only.

Interpreters - update on booking process for telephone interpreters

‘The Big Word’ have provided an update on the booking process for telephone interpreters.

Practitioners are advised that pressing ‘0’ puts the practitioner into the standard call centre queue to wait for an operator to handle the call. The technology upgrade added earlier in the year means that the practitioner is now able to self-host the call (see the multiparty ‘Big Word telephone interpreting quick guide’) even if it is a three-way call.

The instructions are to dial the number, input the release code then input the correct language code. Please refer to the ‘Language code list’ which table showing the big word interpreting languages and codes can also be located under the ‘useful information for legal aid suppliers’ area of the LSANI website. This will connect the practitioner automatically to the next available linguist and reduce the wait times. Once connected to the linguist, the practitioner should explain they are dialling in the third party, they press *1 and enter the third telephone number. Once connected, all three parties will be on the line.


Supporting documents - update on acceptable formats

The Agency wishes to advise practitioners that, as a general rule, they should not submit supporting documents by way of photographs if there are alternative options available i.e. access to scanners, converter apps etc. The Agency recognises that due to the increase in working from home as a result of the pandemic that this is not always feasible.

In such circumstances, practitioners should ensure that any supporting documents uploaded by way of a photograph should be of good quality, with text clearly legible. Poor quality images will not be accepted by the Agency and any requests with poor quality images will be queried back to the practitioner.

Please be advised that LAMS allows the upload of a number of different document formats as detailed below:

  • pdf
  • Text – doc, docx, txt, rtf, map
  • Spreadsheet – xls, xlsx, wks
  • Presentation – ppt, pptx
  • Picture formats – jpg, jpeg, bmp, gif, png, tiff, psp, ait
  • Multimedia – mov, au, qt, ra, wav, avi
  • Database – mdb, dbf
  • Apple MAC – mac, hqz


LAMS re-registration of individual and business accounts

Re-registration of all suppliers will take place between 1 and 30 June 2021. You will be required to review the details held in your individual account and confirm or update your details, including your contact details and to upload a copy of your most recent practising certificate.

If you are an account administrator of a business you will also be required to re-register your business. You will need to review your business contact details, including all offices associated with your business, review who is attached to your business and your business bank account details and if appropriate, self-billing arrangements. However, if there is a need to amend any of these details this cannot be done via the registration process. You will need firstly re-register your business and then use the “Modify Account” link and follow the normal process.

For further information on attaching/detaching employees or solicitors from your business account, refer to Sections 5.4 and 5.5 of the LAMS supplier manual or watch the instructional video. For information on how to modify your individual supplier account or business account, refer to Section 6 of the LAMS supplier manual.

The re-registration button will appear within LAMS on 1 June 2021 when the re-registration window opens.

The re-registration window will remain open until 30 June 2021. After this date, if you have not re-registered, your individual or your business account will be de-registered from 1 July 2021. This will mean that you cannot submit any new application requests on LAMS, however, you will be able to continue working on existing cases.

If you miss the deadline you can still re-register as the reregistration button will continue to be displayed but you will not be able to submit any new application requests until the re-registration application has been checked, verified and approved.


What you might have missed

Please note that the LSANI have published the following on the Agency’s website:

Notes to editors: 

Please note that printable PDF versions of the key messages are located within the 'Useful information for legal aid suppliers' page under the title 'Key messages'.

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