Key messages for legal aid suppliers - June 2020

Date published: 09 July 2020

The LSA has issued the key messages for legal aid suppliers for June 2020.

Graphic for legal services agency northern ireland key messages

Supporting documents

Practitioners are reminded to select the appropriate dropdown for any documentation uploaded. Many supporting documents are being labelled ‘other’ when they could be slotted into one of the available dropdown categories. Failure to select the appropriate dropdown category delays the processing of the request.

Interpreting services

Practitioners are reminded that prior authority must be applied for and authorised by the Agency prior to sessions going ahead. As per LSA Circular 20-19, the Agency accepts that this may not be possible for emergency out of hours or weekend services. In such cases the practitioner should make contact directly with the relevant provider and follow up with the Agency at the first opportunity i.e. next day/Monday morning, to allow the proper authorisation to be put in place. A number of practitioners are proceeding with appointments without authorisation in place. Solicitor firms will be liable for payments made in respect of any interpreter costs made without having prior authority in place and without reasonable explanation.

The Agency recognises that in the current climate many client appointments are being conducted using online video conferencing tools. Diversity NI have reported a trend in sessions being missed and/or cancelled at short notice due to solicitor representatives not forwarding links to same in a timely fashion. Diversity NI’s booking form has been updated to reflect this and bookings will not be confirmed if appropriate details are not provided at the time of booking.  

Exceptional Preparation - additional hours requests

Practitioners are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure they keep abreast of hours granted and utilised by category of work (i.e. reading, consultations etc.) in Exceptional Preparation cases. Practitioners should request further additional hours as they are approaching the expenditure of their grant. Hours granted are not transferrable across categories of work and hours exceeding maximum grant in place will not be remunerated at the conclusion of the case as per the legislative position. If in doubt, a message should be sent against the request requiring clarification and as a result of the clarification you may then be required to submit a new request.

Filtering for queries on LAMS

Further to the May 2020 Key Messages, practitioners are advised to filter for unanswered queries for their business on the ‘Requests for your business’ page, using the Status “Queried”.

This search will return any requests that have been queried back to you by LSANI and have not yet been answered and resubmitted by your office. For further information on filtering please refer to Section 15 page 63 of the Supplier Manual or watch the instructional video on searching and filtering.

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