Legal aid providers: what to expect from the LAA audit process, including peer review and contract compliance audit details.
Applies to England and Wales
As a legal aid provider you might be audited:
- if the LAA finds anomalies in your contract management information
- if the LAA identifies anomalies across the wider fund in an area of your firm’s work
- if a contract manager asks for an audit
- as a follow-up to previous interventions
- if there’s been a period of time since your last audit
If the evidence suggests that you’re complying with contractual requirements, it’s more likely that you’ll only receive an annual visit from a contract manager and won’t be audited.
Types of error
The main types of provider error found on audit include:
- incorrect assessments of eligibility of clients or insufficient evidence kept on file
- incorrect claims for payment submitted through contracted work and administration (CWA)
Find out more aboutand look at mistakes commonly found on audits and in assessments.
brings together a number of documents to assist providers to comply with contractual requirements and associated guidance.
The LAA may take various actions after an audit, for example:
- LAA establish compliance and no further action will be required
- LAA amend incorrect claims and recoup money against payments made
- LAA issue a contract notice requesting that you make a significant improvement in your performance in the highlighted area of work over the next 6 months
We may also impose 1 of 8 possible LAA contract sanctions, including our right to suspend delivery of contract work for a specified period and/or suspend payments due to you for a designated period, ultimately terminating the contract.
Types of audit
Your firm may be subject to a number of different LAA audit and assurance types. For more information see the
Further details of the 2 main types of LAA audit, peer review and contract compliance audits, are outlined below.
The independent peer review we use was developed by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and is managed by consultants who are independent of the LAA. Find out more in our guidance on the
Peer reviewers are experienced legal aid practitioners. They assess a random sample of a Provider’s case files using the Peer Review Criteria and Guidance and Quality Guides, and a rating system developed by the original researchers in consultation with Peer Reviewers, representatives of the Law Society and law centres and advice agencies within the not-for-profit sector.
The current members of the Peer Reviewer panel were appointed through an on open selection process, which included advertisements in public legal journals. All Peer Reviewers currently hold a Competence Plus (2) or above rating for their own work.
The Peer Reviewer writes a detailed report containing their findings including positive areas, areas for improvement and the overall quality rating.
The ratings are as follows:
- Excellence (1)
- Competence Plus (2)
- Threshold Competence (3)
- Below Competence (4)
- Failure in Performance (5)
Quality Guides help to inform the Peer Review assessment and are useful tools for Providers to ensure best practice, and can be found in:
How to challenge a peer review result
Providers have the right to make representations where the unconfirmed peer review rating is ‘Below Competence’ (4) or ‘Failure in Performance’ (5).
Download theto make a representation.
The Peer Reviewer will consider your representations and discuss these with a Senior Peer Reviewer. Together they will decide:
- The original rating is upheld.
- The original rating is revised.
Contact the peer review team