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Legal Aid Agency requests status update on 17,000 ‘inactive’ cases

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(8 February 2024)

The Legal Aid Agency has embarked on a major information-gathering exercise to get to the bottom of 17,000 cases on its IT systems that have been ‘inactive’ for the past 12 months.

The agency has 170,000 live cases on its systems at any given time but, for this exercise, narrowed its focus on cases where payments on account have been made but no ‘significant activity’ – such as an application, amendment, outcome, bill, provider transfer request, very high cost case plan – has been recorded for 12 months.

‘We know there can be a range of reasons why claims are not billed, but we also know there are cases that should have been billed that have not. Ensuring that only genuinely ongoing cases are live helps us to predict legal aid expenditure. This is of financial benefit to providers and ensures effective risk management from an LAA perspective,’ the agency said.

While the agency does not carry out this kind of review every year, it told the Gazette that the review sits alongside regular checks carried out on inactive cases.

The agency was unable to confirm if the 17,000 figure is typical or an anomaly but was able to confirm which areas of law the cases fall within – most are special Children Act cases, 5,000 are civil non-family and 1,700 are housing-related.

Asked if practitioners in the 17,000 cases were owed money, the agency said the exercise was not intended to elicit how much payment remains to be claimed and the agency was unable to estimate unclaimed payments on specific cases.

LAA systems do not show the current stage of proceedings covered by a legal aid certificate. ‘We are working with digital colleagues on a light-touch process which will allow providers to simply indicate on CCMS whether a case is ongoing or will be billed, however, we do not yet know when that change will be implemented,’ the agency said.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)