Practitioners have begun testing a replacement for the Legal Aid Agency's controversial online billing system, the Gazette has learned.
The agency revealed earlier this year that it will roll out an Apply for Legal Aid service 'which will reduce dependency' on the client and cost management system, which has been beset with problems.
In a regular update posted to members yesterday, the Legal Aid Practitioners Group said beta testing for the new service begins this week. Three civil providers have been selected to submit applications for passported clients in domestic abuse proceedings.
The practitioner group said: 'The LAA has explained that there will be a phased approach to the development of the Apply service, which will allow the LAA digital team to seek feedback from users and make any necessary changes before more providers are brought on board.'
It has long been a source of frustration for practitioners.
A charity's claim for a judicial review application was slashed from three hours to 30 minutes. Technical glitches last year resulted in a family solicitor having to inform domestic violence victims that they must attend court on their own.
A report on the supply side of the immigration market said the additional unpaid time that providers spent dealing with CCMS, and the associated frustration and stress, was the 'single most significant problem for providers, and a real threat to survival for some who felt they were already "on the brink" because of fee cuts'.