The government will close solicitor accounts that are not being used to access the Legal Aid Agency's services following a system upgrade to prevent glitches that led to the portal going offline for nearly a week.
The online web portal provides single sign-on access to the agency's core applications for legal aid providers and LAA staff. Applications include contracted work and administration, the client cost management system, eForms, Crown court remuneration and litigation fees as well as management information.
This week the agency announced that, starting next month, it will begin closing accounts that have not been accessed for more than six months. Solicitors must contact their system administrator to restore access or set up a new account. Shared accounts will no longer be allowed for security reasons.
Last year the portal was upgraded to improve performance and stability, 'and decrease the likelihood of the occurrence of the types of severe issues that caused it to go offline for nearly a week in 2016', according to guidance published by the agency.
In March 2016, the Law Society reported that 'significant ongoing problems' with the portal for submitting electronic crime applications had severely delayed legal aid applications and applications for prior authority to do essential work on cases.
The agency says the upgraded portal has improved security and data protection, quicker log-in times, a more user-friendly password reset process, a status bar for all applications which provides up-to-date information on issues affecting performance, and an upgraded message function.
The guidance states that solicitors will no longer need to clear the cache to reset their password. They have 10 attempts to correctly state their username and password before they are locked out of the portal for 30 minutes. As long as a session is not idle for more than an hour at a time, solicitors will be able to access the portal for up to eight hours before the session must be re-authenticated.