The Legal Aid Agency is putting the finishing touches to its electronic application form for criminal legal aid ahead of the digital system becoming mandatory for solicitors.

From 4 July the agency will no longer accept paper applications as part of its programme to move criminal applications and billing online. Solicitors will have to use the agency’s CRM14 eForm.

The system will be unavailable from 7pm on Monday until 9am the following day to enable the agency to make six ‘enhancements’.

Once the changes are made, applications such as Crown court order breaches, which were previously accepted only on paper forms, will be accepted through the system. It will also accept legal aid applications in civil contempt cases which, again, were previously accepted only on paper form.

Providers will be able to open previously submitted eForms to review the reasons for assessment results.

A ‘messages’ tab will enable users to view assessment results. 

The agency says the online form is being used ‘successfully’ for more than 90% of applications. Its online civil billing system became mandatory earlier this year, despite misgivings from users.

* criminal legal aid providers have until 8 July to submit applications to join the next duty solicitor rota. The rota will run from 1 October 2016 to 31 March 2017. The agency says providers who have not previously submitted a CRM12 will need to provide a copy of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS) certificate with their application.