Like many members, I didn't know Mike Fisher personally, but I am saddened to hear that we have lost another legend of the London legal aid landscape.  Margaret Gordon of Imran Khan Solicitors wrote “Mike was a founding partner of both Fisher Meredith and of Christian Fisher (subsequently Christian Khan). His career reads like a history of development of legal aid practice in London and many very significant and successful lawyers were his protégés and became his friends. Mike acted in many important cases including representing Myra Hindley and Paul Hill and many other important IRA prosecutions. Matt Foot has described him in a recent interview as ' very shrewd and lovely to me"  On behalf of the association we send our condolence to Mike’s family and close friends.

Judicial Review  If the government have their way, the legacy of Michael and many of his generation will be consigned to the history books, and that is why we have been fighting against the cuts and disastrous proposals to reduce the number of firms providing a duty service by two thirds. The committees of both associations have spent the last week and even as you read this message working in preparation for the hearing at the High Court on 15/16th January. The time dedicated to this complex task is often at the expense of the very same fee earning week that we are fighting to preserve. This battle is not only costly in terms of time, but also financially, which is why we are again appealing for donations towards this fund. The cost of a donation is nothing against the price of justice and the closure of our practices. We’ve heard this before, but now I generally think that this really is the endgame. Please show your support for those working on this fight by donating here http://www.criminallawyersunited.com/donate-to-the-campaign-fund/

Auction4justice  This ends tonight at 11:59 , unless there is a late flurry of bids , there are many items still going for a "song" including an opportunity to spend the day on the set and appear in "the syndicate " ( as opposed to consortium) ; tea or dinner at the House of Commons ; a week in a villa in Italy . Take a look, here is a link with further details: https://www.lccsa.org.uk/auction4justice/

Global Law Summit  This is as many of you know is the Government's cynical attempt to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, with a legal business fair. It is noted that although the actual anniversary date is in June, this event is to take place 3 months before The General Election. As  I mentioned in my speech at the AGM in November (extract here http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sjr0m4?new_post=true) , we are intending to mobilise our members to join with the rest of the Justice Alliance in a major protest against this hijacking of this historical anniversary . Please keep 23/02 free and look out for details to follow very shortly.

Legal Aid e portal  The take up of eforms has been slow in London; I have told them that the timing of the roll out meant we were preoccupied with other matters. However, if it does help in speedy processing then it is worth engaging and using. At the bottom of this email is a document that I have been asked to circulate to assist providers.  In the meantime here is something for the weekend http://youtu.be/vxXmDlMq13o

Heading Crime news: how to avoid rejections on legal aid applications

Teaser Tips to help prevent criminal applications being rejected

Main article We are rejecting a large number of criminal legal aid applications because the assessment information we need is missing.   You can avoid a lot of issues by using the CRM14 eForm instead of the old paper form. This is now being rolled out across England and Wales.   The eForm has the benefit of helping to ensure that all the information is completed before the application is made and reduces the potential for rejected applications.   In the meantime, here are some tips to help avoid this problem:

1. Incomplete form Make sure the form is signed and dated and all the questions are answered. If they haven’t and the information is needed to process the application then it will have to be returned.   Examples of missing information include:

  • evidence of income
  • bank account details
  • whether the applicant is in custody and has a partner

These examples are covered in more detail below.

2. Missing income evidence Where the applicant has a declared income, and they are not remanded in court custody, they need to provide evidence of this.

3. Fully complete the declaration section The declarations for the applicant, their partner, and the defence representative need to be completed by all the relevant parties.   In particular the defence representative must tick one only of the two boxes above their signature to confirm their status.

4. Duplicate applications Check whether an application has already been submitted for your client as we sometimes receive more than one application for a particular offence.   It is worthwhile noting that it is not just different defence organisations that submit applications for the same client – we often receive duplicate applications from within the same firm.

5. Clarify how the defendant/their partner are supporting themselves For magistrates’ court applications where no income is declared, or an applicant’s income is less than their outgoings, we ask that they provide information about how they are supporting themselves. For example, are they relying on friends or relatives?

Further information   CRM14: criminal legal aid application form Criminal legal aid processing: applications and digital systems Praise for CRM14 eForms in crime provider survey – news story with provider feedback

Update on CRM14 eForm in your area The CRM14 eForm is now available to use across London. Providers are already experiencing the benefits of using the CRM14 eForm. In areas like Merseyside and Cheshire, there has already been over a 77% take-up of the eForm which has many advantages, these include:

  • No paper or postage costs/losses
  • Immediate electronic notifications – find out decision instantly via the eForm portal
  • A DWP link – an instant indication of client eligibility
  • An electronic 'date stamp' to backdate your applications to the earliest opportunity
  • Significantly less rejected claims
  • Used via LAA online and the existing eForms portal   Make these benefits work for your business by using the CRM14 eForm. Wi-fi in selected courts We have also listened to your feedback on making the most of the CRM14 eForm in a Wi-Fi enabled environment. The LAA has established 5 4G Mi-Fi networks in a number of solicitor rooms in the magistrates courts listed below.
  • City of Westminster
  • Camberwell Green
  • Hammersmith
  • Thames
  • Highbury Corner

It means providers are able to connect to wi-fi on laptops, tablets or mobile phones to complete and submit CRM14 eForms at court.

How do I start using MiFi?

Providers will need to email the Crime Change Programme to request passwords for the sites where they wish to make use of the new networks on eformscrime@legalaid.gsi.gov.uk They will also need to include details of all colleagues in the firm they will share the passwords with. The network is a private one solely for CJS Practitioners and is only for the submission of the CRM14 eForm and using Criminal Justice Secure eMail (CJSM). Where can I find out more about the CRM14 eForm? Free Online training (via WebEx) You can access free online training sessions every Tuesday (4-5pm) including a demonstration of the CRM14 eForm.  To book onto the sessions, click the link below: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/crime-change-programme-6754940895?s=26108669 Frequently asked questions Find out the answers to your queries via our web page and our frequently asked questions document at the link below: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/simplifying-criminal-legal-aid-processing If you wish to discuss how the CRM14 eForm can integrate into your business, please contact your Contract Manager.

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