The government has had to introduce contingency arrangements after 'severe issues' broke its digital legal aid billing system. The Legal Aid Agency said the client and cost management system (CCMS) was unlikely to be fixed before the weekend.
Solicitor-advocate Adam Tear, head of public law at London firm Hodge Jones & Allen, was one of the first to publicise the problem, tweeting this morning that the system was down.
Subsequently the agency announced that it was experiencing 'severe issues'. The agency said: 'We're investigating and will update once fixed. This is unlikely to be complete today, so please use the contingency arrangements to progress any applications,' the agency added.
CCMS, which became mandatory in 2016, has been beset with problems.
Technical glitches in November 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 last month 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'.
Last month the agency revealed that it will introduce another service, Apply for Legal Aid, to 'reduce dependency' on CCMS.
In the meantime, practitioners are being directed to guidance for processing civil legal aid online, which outlines arrangements for urgent applications and details if the outage lasts for longer than 24 hours.
Update (Monday 19 August): the agency tweeted at midday that the CCMS was 'back and running today!'