The Legal Aid Agency’s annual report and accounts, presented to the House of Commons, had to be withdrawn and republished after an accounting error was spotted, it has emerged. 

In the latest version of the report, published last week, LAA chief executive Jane Harbottle said the error resulted in legal aid expenditure being overstated by £26.3m and net liabilities being overstated by the same amount.

The September report stated that expenditure under the legal aid schemes was £1,600,346,000. The figure should have been £1,574,040,000. A corrected version of the report has now been presented to the House of Commons.

Harbottle said: ‘The error arose on reports used to calculate the accruals-based payable for amounts due to solicitors, counsel and advice agencies. Due to the timing of the data feed from one system to another, payments made to providers on 31 March 2021 were missing from the calculation, and the accruals-based payable, and expenditure, were therefore overstated.

‘The error did not affect payments to providers, or individual provider statements. The calculation is performed solely in order to disclose an accruals-based figure in the LAA’s financial statements.

‘Subsequent to identifying the error, additional and enhanced reconciliations between data sources have been put in place, to prevent a recurrence of this or a similar error.’