Legal aid practitioners struggling to weather the coronavirus pandemic may have wasted several hours submitting applications on a troubled digital billing system that reportedly stopped working properly a week ago and has still not been fixed.

The Legal Aid Agency confirmed on 29 June that its client and cost management system was experiencing ‘performance and connection issues’ and external users were not able to log in. On 30 June, the agency asked providers not to use the system ‘as work may not be saved’.

Contingency arrangements have been activated. Practitioners who intended to submit claims between 25 June and 1 July were asked to resubmit claims using the back-up process.

In light of the latest outage, the Law Society said it had serious concerns about the Legal Aid Agency’s timetable for moving court-assessed bills in-house.

Simon Davis, president, said: ‘Civil legal aid solicitors have been working tirelessly since the beginning of lockdown to ensure everyone can access justice. These issues with the CCMS must be addressed as a matter of urgency.’

An agency spokesperson said: ‘We are working hard to deal with this issue and our priority is to make sure firms can continue to make legal aid applications and get their payments processed. We have put in place contingency measures to do so and apologise for any disruption in the meantime.’

CCMS, which became mandatory in 2016, has been beset with problems. Last year the agency said it would roll out an Apply for Legal Aid service, which would ‘reduce dependency’ on the CCMS.