The mandatory date for roll out of CCMS across the country is to be put back from October 2015 to February 2016. The CCMS (Client and Cost Management System) is an online system for civil and family legal aid providers and others assigned to work on their cases, e.g. advocates, clerks and costs lawyers. It covers the whole process for certificated civil and family legal aid work, from submitting legal aid applications to paying bills.
Unfortunately, the system which has been rolled out on a voluntary basis since April 2014 has been beset with problems and subject of much criticism.
Representative bodies including Resolution and the Association of Costs Lawyers have called the system unfit for purpose and called for the mandatory roll out to be postponed.
Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution has called the system “nothing short of a national scandal” continuing:
“My message to the Legal Aid Agency is simple – just because something works for you, doesn’t mean that it works… There may have been some improvements in CCMS as a result of our work, and we welcome this. But if the system is rolled out in its current form, there will be untold difficulties come October. I say to those at the LAA – you need to listen to what practitioners are saying, and act on it now, for your own sake as much as anyone else’s”
Paul Seddon, chair of the ACL’s legal aid group and author a recent ACL report highlighting the major shortcomings of the CCMS, has said in response to a recent LAA update:
“There are only five improvements listed and two of those relate to billing. These improvements seem minor, not major, and the two relating to billing are peripheral to key problems highlighted in our report. They barely scratch the surface of the work that is required to make this system acceptable to use by October 2015, and this does not give me any confidence that the necessary fixes are going to be made in time (if ever).”
It would seem that the LAA have listened. It is hoped that significant improvements will have been made by February 2016. Otherwise, it is likely that calls for a further postponement of the rollout, if not a scrapping of the system altogether, will be called for.