Digitisation of legal aid

The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI) is introducing a new digital Legal Aid Management System (LAMS) in April 2019. 

 

LAMS Training

The Legal Services Agency is offering half-day overview training sessions for solicitors and their staff on our new digital case management system LAMS. These will take place during February and March. The course will be delivered by professional BT trainers. The training objective is to provide hands-on experience of using LAMS and give you an understanding of its relevance to you as a legal aid supplier. For more information on dates, and how to book a place please see our LAMS training leaflet.

What is LAMS?

When LAMS comes into operation, the Agency will only accept online applications and requests in relation to all live and new cases and it will no longer accept paper applications and payment requests.

LAMS is a digital case management system that will enable online applications, requests and correspondence and will provide real-time visibility of case status.

It will speed up processing times, reduce form-filling and use of paper, eliminate postage costs and provision of duplicate information and it will improve data accuracy. It will provide more frequent payments to solicitors and barristers, including direct payments to counsel.

LAMS will be accessible on various electronic devices.

Please see our promotional material on our Legal aid is going digital page.

What do legal professionals need to do?

To continue to access legal aid after April 2019, you will need to take the following steps: 

Step 1  Create an nidirect account

Solicitors must create an nidirect account for identity assurance and then visit one of a number of locations to present identification.  This is a NI Government requirement to ensure that your privacy is protected and your data secure.

Solicitors should do this now. 

Follow the instructions - Solicitors: How to create an nidirect account

Practice staff must also create an nidirect account for identity assurance, but the process is different to that for solicitors. Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/employee-legal-aid-account and enter the requested personal information. Once complete, you will receive an email asking you to activate your account.

For barristers, the Bar Library will assist your nidirect account creation, as part of step 2. Watch out for further communication from the Bar Library.

Step 2  Create a digital account on LAMS

All solicitors wishing to undertake legal aid work from April 2019 must create an individual ‘supplier account’. You can do this between 15 January and 8 March 2019. Make sure you have a validated nidirect account, and all the necessary information and documentation to hand. Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/solicitor-or-barrister-legal-aid-account, enter the email address and password you used to create the account and ‘sign in’ to your nidirect account. Select ‘create supplier account’ and complete.

For more information, you can:

Each solicitor practice must designate one of its solicitors as its account administrator. This person must initially create his or her individual ‘supplier account’ and when this is approved, they must then create the practice’s ‘business account’ on LAMS. We recommend that account administrators create their individual supplier accounts by 22 February and business accounts by 8 March to enable current cases to be attached to your business account in LAMS before go-live in April. (Please note that you must await confirmation from the Agency that your supplier account has been approved before you can create the business account.) To create the business account, sign into your supplier account, select ‘business account’ and complete.

All practice staff who will access and input to LAMS must create an ‘other employee account’. Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/employee-legal-aid-account, enter the email address and password you used to create the account and ‘sign in’ to your nidirect account. Select ‘create other employee account’ and complete.

All barristers wishing to undertake legal aid work from April 2019 must create an individual ‘supplier account’, followed by a ‘business account’. We recommend that you create your individual supplier account by 1 March and your business account by 15 March 2019. When your nidirect account is active, go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/solicitor-or-barrister-legal-aid-account, ‘sign in’, select ‘create supplier account’ and complete. Once your supplier account has been approved by the Agency, sign into your LAMS account via your nidirect account, select ‘create business account’ and complete.

For more information, you can:

Step 3  Begin using LAMS

You will then be ready to start using LAMS from April 2019.

LAMs guidance

Please see our LAMS guidance page for further assistance.

Solicitors: How to create an nidirect account

To gain access to LAMS from January 2019, solicitors first need to create an nidirect account. You can do this now by taking the following steps:

Step 1 - Go to the link below to create your nidirect account. Enter the requested personal information, create a memorable word, and an authentication code will be sent to your email address. For most people the address you supply should be your home address as this will be the address most likely to be supported by your identification documents. Note that data provided for nidirect accounts is held in a secure encrypted database and is used solely for the purposes of assuring an individual’s identity.

Step 2 - You must then have your account verified within 5 calendar days at one of the Government’s 13 verification centres across Northern Ireland.

Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/solicitor-or-barrister-legal-aid-account to find out more and to create your account.

Frequently asked questions

For further information on how to use the digital case management system, please see our Frequently Asked Questions:

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