The LSA has issued the key messages for legal aid suppliers for July 2020.
Closure of COVID-19 Interim Payment Scheme
Practitioners should note the COVID-19 Interim Payment Scheme is closing. The last day for submitting a request for payment under the scheme is 7 August 2020. The option to select the associated payment fee will not be available on LAMS after this date. Please ensure that all requests are completed in keeping with the requirements of the Scheme.
Implementation of case closure in the Legal Aid Management System (LAMS)
Practitioners are remind as per LSA Circular 11/2020 that auto closure of cases in LAMS will commence on 8 August 2020.
Upon closure of a case a system generated email notification will be sent to all suppliers attached to the case and they will no longer be able to submit any further requests through LAMS. If necessary however, they can still submit a message against the case or a request on LAMS asking that the case is re-opened. Under such circumstances the reasons for re-opening the case will be required and should be detailed in the message request. The re-opening of the case will be considered in line with LSA’s published late claims policy.
The Agency anticipates that when the functionality is deployed there will be a sizeable number of cases that will close on the first day with associated emails issuing to practitioners.
Appeals and Reviews
All CLSAP sittings are being conducted online and the outcome communicated in the usual way. All oral hearings are currently being conducted online, the Agency will advise the practitioner in advance of the date and time and issue an invitation to attend.
Internal panels in relation to Reviews and Redeterminations have recommenced and any oral representations are made online via WebEx.
Payment of interim disbursements in Magistrates Court cases
Practitioners are reminded that requests for payment of interim disbursements in Magistrate Court cases are only paid where there is an associated certificate of exceptionality. There is no legislative provision to make such payments in any other circumstances and the Agency will reject these requests.
PACE remote interview initiative
There is currently an initiative being trialled by the PSNI to test the suitability of carrying out some PACE interviews remotely. These interviews involve both the solicitor and the assisted person attending the solicitor’s office at a prearranged time.
There is currently a limited number (3) of solicitor firms taking part in this initiative. All solicitors will note that when applying for Advice and Assistance support for PACE there will be a new matter ‘PACE – Remote Interview’ listed. This matter is not to be used by anyone other than the firms taking part in the initiative. Any application received from any other firm will be rejected and a fresh application and request for payment under the correct matter will need to be made.
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