Legal Aid

IT companies join Carter fray

PUBLISHED October 27, 2006

The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) has called for more time for IT companies to change law firms? systems to accommodate the Carter reforms, claiming the April 2007 start date for fee structure changes is ?unachievable?.

In a submission to the joint Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA)/Legal Services Commission (LSC) consultation, LSSA president Simon Meehan said the organisation has ?serious concerns? that the IT companies supplying the majority of firms that undertake publicly funded work ?will be unable to facilitate the changes proposed as required for a smooth transition to yet another major upheaval of the legal aid system?.

The LSSA claims that software made by its members is used in 87% of law firms doing publicly funded work, and that ?the proposed time-scales are unachievable?. ?It is likely that solicitors and legal aid providers will not have the systems in place to comply?, it added.

Jitendra Valera, chief executive of IT firm Thomson Elite, said it seemed ?a reasonable request from the LSSA, that they be given adequate time to specify, develop, test and release the software? that lawyers need to deliver legal aid services.

The LSSA has called for ?a long-term IT strategy to be published with key milestones? by the DCA, for the Carter proposal to allow amendment to contracts at any time to be dropped, and for an approved benchmark that would allow firms to show their products comply with the new standards.