The LSA has issued payment related key messages for legal aid suppliers for the end of financial year 2020-2021.
Printable financial report
As detailed in paragraph 1 of LSA Circular 14/2020 LAMS has functionality that will allow you, subject to permissions set by your account administrator, to generate a report that provides details of payment requests submitted by the business to LSANI. The report will also show adjustments made by LSANI to previously authorised payment requests. This report includes details of fees claimed and where applicable, fees assessed.
Guidance on how to use the ‘Financial Report’ can be found in Section 32.3 (page 233) of the LAMS supplier manual. Practitioners may find this functionality useful when reconciling their legal aid account.
Printable document for all requests
As detailed in paragraph 1 of LSA Circular 14/2020 LAMS has functionality that will allow you, subject to permissions set by your account administrator, to generate printable documents for all request types. These documents also include your client reference if you have added it to LAMS.
Guidance on how to print requests can be found in Section 14.3 (page 61) of the LAMS supplier manual. Practitioners may find this functionality useful if they wish to print off or save an electronic copy of a LAMS request.
Queried requests in LAMS
It is important that practitioners respond to queried requests in a timely manner. Practitioners a reminded that they must ensure that when responding to the query that they also resubmit the queried request. Details on how to deal with queried requests can be found in Section 31 (page 225) of the LAMS supplier manual or watch the instructional video.
There are a number of ways that you can find a queried requests and these have been detailed in paragraph 3 of the February 2021 key messages.
Accuracy of legal aid payments
As outlined in LSA Circular 18/2020 the Agency published a guidance note on the accuracy of legal aid payments. Paragraph 11 of this guidance note advised that the Agency had reviewed its fees adjustments and recoupments policy.
Practitioners should familiarise themselves with this policy as it sets out the administrative arrangements for the adjustment of fees and the repayment of overpayments of fees and expenses made to suppliers/businesses.
Outstanding queries in relation to requests for payment
Practitioners are reminded of the message broadcast on LAMS on 24 March 2021.There are currently a substantial number of queries that are more than 21 days old that are awaiting replies from practitioners and resubmission to the Agency before these payments can be processed.
From 1 April 2021, unless a response to a query raised on LAMS is responded to within the 21 days allowed, they will be recalled by the Agency and the case(s) will be closed on LAMS in line with paragraph 13 of the ‘LSANI Guidance – Accuracy of Legal Aid Payments’ and our case closure guidance, detailed in Circular 11/20.
Retention of records
Practitioners are reminded of the requirement to retain full records to substantiate any payment both pre and post payment. This requirement is in line with Regulation 12 of the General Regulations that requires “a supplier to furnish to any person authorised by the Director to request it, such information as the Director may from time to time require for the purpose of discharging the Director’s functions under the Order” and Audit requirements.
Failure to comply means the case is treated as a deemed error and contributes to a higher rate of official error in the Agency than would be appropriate if you provided the requested information and may potentially result in money paid having to be recouped.
Notes to editors:
- Magilligan and Hydebank prisoners prize winners in major writing competitions 14 May 2021
- Key messages for legal aid suppliers - April 2021 07 May 2021
- Consultation on ‘Improving the Experiences of Victims and Witnesses in the Criminal Justice System’ launched 05 May 2021
- Long launches Consultation on Legal Aid for Mediation in Non-Family Civil Cases 04 May 2021