The LSA has issued the key messages for legal aid suppliers for November 2020.
Domestic Violence scheme
Practitioners are reminded of the availability of the Domestic Violence scheme which allows legal aid to be made available to applicants for Non Molestation Orders who ordinarily would be financially outside the scope of legal aid, subject to a contribution from capital and/or income and the merits tests being met.
In all cases where an applicant’s disposable weekly income exceeds £234 or their capital exceeds £3000 please complete a ‘Financial Assessment form’ which can be located on the Agency’s website on the ‘LAMS legal aid supporting documents’ page and upload it as a supporting document to your application on LAMS.
Practitioners are advised not to use the ‘emergency’ application functionality on LAMS for applications for exceptional funding. The emergency process is designed for the most urgent of cases where representation is required immediately in the interests of justice. Generally this does not apply in applications for exceptional funding where full financial assessment is required in accordance with Article 12A of the AJO. Applications and follow up requests for exceptional funding are monitored daily. If your application is genuinely urgent, please use the messaging functionality on LAMS to explain the need for urgent consideration.
Exceptional preparation (criminal cases) - applications made on behalf of multiple representatives
Further to LSA Circular 13/2020, representatives are reminded that authority requests for exceptional preparation and the detail contained within are only viewable by those attached to the business who submitted the request. Solicitors and barristers are therefore encouraged to raise their own individual authority requests for exceptional preparation to ensure that each legal representative has full oversight and visibility of the information contained within their request. This will also negate the reliance on solicitors to communicate the outcome of such applications to counsel and/or the issuing of follow up correspondence such as 21 day letters to counsel.
Electronic pages of prosecution evidence
Representatives are encouraged to read LSA circular 20/2020 which sets out the new requirements for submitting electronic pages of prosecution evidence.
These requirements will apply to representatives that are requesting additional hours to read ePPE in exceptional preparation cases. Specifically, representatives should familiarise themselves with the definition of PPE provided within the DoJ guidance. Representatives will be required to confirm that ePPE that is requested to be read; falls within the definition provided in the guidance.
Representatives are advised that where they are applying for additional preparation hours to read disclosure, the PPS schedule of disclosure should be uploaded as a supporting document against the relevant request.
Requirements for checking payment requests and supporting information
LSA circular 18/2020 provided details of the checks carried out by assessors when considering a request for payment in respect of both Civil and High Court Bails. One of these checks is against the ICOS record. To prevent delay and repeat messaging, we request that practitioners supply the ICOS ID when making a payment request. This will ensure accurate, timely assessment and payment.