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Legal aid changes to streamline family work

New approach from 19 April 2019

A new approach to certificated family work is being rolled out by the Legal Aid Agency across England and Wales from 19 April 2019 following a successful pilot with providers.

The change means that legal aid certificates will in future be granted with a wider limitation on costs for most family proceedings.

The Legal Aid Agency says that providers will be able to free up administrative time currently spent collating and submitting evidence before they can carry out their work.

What does this mean for providers' work?
Starting on 19 April 2019 applications for a set number of proceedings will be granted with a cost limitation of £25,000. These are all listed in the appropriate guidance. This change will reduce the need to submit a cost amendment in the future.

If providers are submitting a Special Children Act application you will see the £25,000 cost limit applied on CCMS when submitting the application. For other types of family proceedings, the £25,000 cost limit will be shown on the case on CCMS and the certificate once granted by the Legal Aid Agency.

The evidence currently required in advance from providers for certificate amendments can be submitted when proceedings are concluded.

Why is the Legal Aid Agency doing this?
This was a change suggested by providers at the LAA's process efficiency team (PET) working group. This group brings together caseworkers and providers to look at how they can work together more efficiently.

According to the LAA, the change means:

The LAA says that it also means that caseworkers will have more time to spend on complex applications and providing a quality service.

What about existing cases?
Certificates with existing limitations will be amended in line with the new arrangements. This will apply for providers seeking amendments from 19 April 2019.

New guidance will be available on the CCMS training website from 23 April 2019.