The other morning, an email arrived in my inbox from the Scottish Legal Aid Board, inviting me to take part in a survey of the service provided by SLAB.
Here is my response:
"Both the applications and accounts systems of the Scottish Legal Aid Board are not fit for purpose.
"The meandering and confusing layout of the innumerable screens presented online are deplorable.
"If one contacts the board with suggestions for improvement, these are routinely ignored. I therefore have absolutely no confidence that the content of this response to your survey will be afforded any attention, far less action. Let's see if anyone actually reads this and does something about it.
"Yesterday, I had occasion to discuss the experience of other practitioners and every one of the five people I spoke to had nothing but abject contempt for the Legal Aid Board and its operation.
"This morning, I have attempted to draft a civil legal aid account and have been unable to get past the first entry because the system considers that a court appearance lasting between 10:00 and 10:15 provides the entirely obscure response: "specified time cannot overlap with other items". I have exchanged five emails to get to the bottom of the problem and the answer I got has simply added to the confusion. This is but one small example of an experience which occurs far too often.
"The system is completely broken in my view and requires full-scale reform.”
If there are other practitioners out there who share the above sentiments, please email me with a subject heading marked "yes", so I can conduct my own survey.
[PS It transpires that "specified time cannot overlap with other items" is SLAB double-speak for "This item has previously been claimed and paid". When the very helpful chap at SLAB advised me that further changes to the system were planned, I was reminded of the reaction of the lady on TV, when told there was to be another election.]Graham A Fordyce, Bearsden (e: firstname.lastname@example.org)