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New LAA KPI - Reducing Rejection Rates

New LAA KPI - Reducing Rejection Rates

Legal Aid practitioners should by now be familiar with the six Key Performance Indicators ("KPIs") that form part of the 2013 Civil Contract Specification.

One of those KPIs relates to rejection rates for Licensed work. Paragraph 2.64 of the Contract confirms that the number of rejections of applications for funding and claims for payment must not exceed 5% of all claims submitted during that contract schedule.

To assist practitioners, the Legal Aid Agency has recently updated the checklists available for new applications to help tackle what they are calling an ‘increasing numbers of rejects'.

The LAA report that during July 2013 they rejected 1,074 applications for funding and 63% of these were because the forms were either incomplete or further information was required to process the work. The following have been highlighted as frequent examples of reasons for rejection:

• Incomplete form - for example form not signed or dated.
• Wrong form - for example using an out of date version.
• Mandatory documents - ensure all required documents are sent with applications, for example bank statements and wage slips.
• CIVAPP1 and CFA - the question about conditional fee agreements (page 8) has changed following the implementation of LASPO and the new merits regulations.

It asks practitioners to confirm whether a case is unsuitable for a CFA. The LAA report that this question is sometimes being misinterpreted. If you believe that it is unsuitable you should answer "yes" to this question and ensure that full reasons are given as to why this is the case.

To assist with Claims for payment, there are the existing checklists for Court assessed and LAA assessed bills. In addition to this, the LAA has now published a ‘Civil Finance Electronic Handbook'. It is quite a lengthy document at 89 pages, but it does cover most queries from ‘which VAT rate to use' to questions about calculating and paying the Statutory Charge.

Practitioners should be provided with regular information from their Contract Managers in relation to their ‘reject rate'. The LAA can produce detailed information as to which matters have been rejected and why. The LAA have been holding meetings with firms that they consider to be the ‘worst performers' and can ultimately issue contract notices if they see no improvement in the reject figures. On the basis that compliance with service standards can also be taken into account in future invitations to tender for contracts, it is important that firms get it right first time.

The checklists can be found using the links below:

New applications checklist

https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/forms/legal-aid/civil-forms/checklist-for-new-applications-apr13.pdf

Court assessed bill checklist

https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/forms/legal-aid/court-assessed-bill-checklist.pdf

LAA assessed bill checklist

https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/forms/legal-aid/laa-assessed-bill-checklist.pdf

The Civil Finance Electronic Handbook can be downloaded using the following link:

https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/legal-aid/funding-code/electronic-handbook.pdf?type=Finjan-Download&slot=0000032B&id=0000072A&location=0A64020D