LC Paper No. CB(2)2086/98-99(06)

For discussion on
27 May 1999

Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services of
The Legislative Council

Implementation of the Integrated Information System in
Legal Aid Department


1. This paper outlines the Integrated Information System for the Legal Aid Department (LAD) and seeks Members' support to its implementation.


2. LAD has for some years been considering how computerization could enhance its operational efficiency and quality of services. In 1995, a consultancy on the Department's information system strategy by KPMG pointed out in its report that the critical success factors for LAD should include -

  1. efficient and effective case management;

  2. ease and speed of internal communication;

  3. ability to deal with business quickly;

  4. effective liaison with outsiders;

  5. accurate and comprehensive management information; and

  6. cost effective supervision of cases and enforcing judgements.

The current information technology situation of LAD is far from adequate in supporting these business needs.


3. LAD's existing major computer systems are largely outdated and inadequate. A brief description of the systems is set out below -

  1. Civil Processing Information System (CPIS)

    The CPIS was developed in 1991 to maintain basic information of all civil legal aid applications. The system handles more than 27,000 new applications each year, in addition to cases accumulated from previous years. Apart from handling data, it does not provide sufficient support to the related business processes. One of its major deficiencies is the incapability to generate documents, such as standard letters to applicants or reminders to assigned lawyers, directly from the system. Substantial time and manpower resources are required to re-type the information already held in the system. The response rate is also unsatisfactory. An analysis of the processing time of legal aid applications takes more than one hour to print. Its incapability to support Chinese language also impedes the keeping of Chinese names of applicants in the system. Owing to limited capacity of the CPIS, a separate system has to be developed for information on lawyers on the Legal Aid Panel.

  2. Litigation Unit Management Information System (LUMIS) and Local Area Network System for Costing (LANCOST)

    LUMIS is developed in the early 90's for handling in-house litigation cases, and LANCOST is a sub-system to capture billing information for taxation purpose. Owing to technical constraints, the systems are not user-friendly and users have to memorise various commands in order to use them. The low-end capacity of their workstations further impairs their efficiency. Although document generation function is available, their speed is far from satisfactory. In addition, the built-in word processing system is incompatible with the rest of the systems in the department.

  3. Legal Aided Persons Accounts System (LAPAS)

    LAPAS is used by the Accounts and Supplies Section to manage the accounts related to legal aid cases, for processing receipts and payments and finalisation of accounts. It handles over 200,000 transactions a year. As the system was installed some 10 years ago, it is now outdated and inadequate. For example, no more than one user can input vouchers information concurrently. Although legal aid costs are related to case application and litigation, the LAPAS is not linked to either LUMIS or CPIS, nor is it connected to the computer system of the Treasury. Manual re-entry of common data is required.

  4. Personal Computer (PC) Applications in the Criminal Section

    The Criminal Section handles more than 4,300 criminal applications each year but has no computerized information system. It uses an end-user developed standalone PC system to capture criminal case related information. As professional officers have no access to the system, it cannot serve as an enabling tool to facilitate case management. Owing to the deficiency of the limited system, supplementary PC systems were added on a piece-meal basis to support the daily operation of the Section. Under such circumstances, data are scattered and it is difficult to obtain comprehensive information.

4. Apart from the inadequacy of the individual systems, the lack of integration of these major systems leads to replication of processes, duplication of data-input efforts, lack of sharing of useful information, and unsatisfactory reporting of management information.

5. The current systems have also proved to be too costly to maintain and too outdated to allow meaningful upgrading. Excluding possible costs for large-scale enhancement, the estimated cost for maintenance and minor enhancement is about $3 million in 1999/2000. The figure does not include the annual staff costs of $638,000 on the part of Information Technology Services Department (ITSD) and Treasury for providing technical support and advice to LAD in relation to LUMIS, LANCOST and LAPAS.


6. In October 1998, the DMR Consulting Group was commissioned to conduct a six-month feasibility study of the department's Information System Strategy. The consultants recommend that the current systems be replaced with an integrated computer system comprising of -

  1. Case Management system: an integrated system covering application processing, case assignment, case monitoring, case costing as well as maintenance of service providers details;

  2. Cost and Resource Management systems: covering case accounting, personnel management and assets management. The case accounting system supports receipt and payment of legal aid cases and will integrate with the Case Management system. The personnel management and assets management systems will maintain details of human resources and assets of the Department; and

  3. Infrastructure programme: providing the technical architecture required for supporting systems in (a) and (b) above including Office Automation, hardware and network facilities.

Detailed functions of the proposed systems are set out at Annex I.


7. The total non-recurrent capital costs for implementation of the proposed systems are estimated to be $51,911,000, of which $44,366,000 are expenditure on hardware, software, consumables and engagement of programme management and operation management services and the remaining $7,545,000 is staff costs to manage the implementation of the project. All of the staff costs can be absorbed from within the current resources, except for $2,666,100 which is needed for the creation of an Assistant Principal Legal Aid Counsel post for 15 months to oversee the implementation of the project. The recurrent costs are anticipated to be $4,981,000 per annum from 2002/03 onwards.

8. It is estimated that implementation of the proposed systems can result in a total ongoing annual savings of $23,995,000, of which $13,804,000 is realisable. The major savings will come from the anticipated reduction of 36 posts by 2002/03 in the Application & Processing Division, the Litigation Division and the Departmental Administration Division. Details of the posts are at Annex II. In addition, non-realisable savings from parts of posts will be $10,191,000 in 2002/03 and annually thereafter. The released staff effort from the fragmented posts will provide capacity for additional workload.

9. A cost-benefit analysis indicates that this project will break even in the year 2004/05 (i.e. the cumulative costs could be offset by cumulative savings). A breakdown of the costs and savings is at Annex III.


10. Apart from the savings mentioned above, the following significant benefits are likely to accrue with the proposed systems -

  1. Improved service to legal aid applicants, in terms of a reduction in the average application processing time from 59 to 57 days. The performance target of completing 80% of the applications within 3 months from the date of application could be improved to over 90%;

  2. Speedier response to enquiries. At present, the time taken to respond to enquiries is 7 to 8 minutes for simple ones and 15 minutes for complex ones. This can be reduced to 5 minutes for all cases, with case information being available on-line. Over 90% of the enquiries could be handled at first call without accessing the physical files;

  3. Enhanced service quality. Legal aid clients' interest can be better protected under the new systems, given the availability of reliable checking on conflict of interest and connected cases in the case management system; accurate automatic means assessment and contribution calculation; online availability of case information, departmental procedures and guidelines which will strengthen the decision making process of LAD officers; and more effective case assignment with the provision of on-line enquiry on private legal practitioners' relevant experience and areas of expertise as well as workload statistics;

  4. Strengthen monitoring of the progress of legal aid cases. The case management applications will maintain an event list for each type of case such as court dates, keep track of the case progress and bring up the case before the event for users' action. This prevents LAD from missing important dates or events and in turn protects the aided persons' interests. As all case events will be logged, LAD can also make better cost assessment and use of resources;

  5. Prompt and accurate payment processing through the elimination of manual steps. For payment of service providers, the time currently taken from receipt of Accounts Instruction Form to sending the transaction to Treasury can be reduced from 11 to 9 working days. As the case accounting system can keep track of the payment schedules, payment of damages to aided persons and recovery of party-to-party costs by instalment can be made promptly. With automatic calculations and computerised cashbooks, higher accuracy level in case accounting can also be ensured;

  6. Timely and accurate management reporting. Automatic compilation of management reports from the system at regular interval will reduce the elapsed time currently encountered by the manual system. Monthly reports on civil cases currently take 3 weeks to compile and those for criminal cases take 1 week. This could be reduced to 2 weeks and 4 days respectively. The reports will also facilitate more effective analysis given the better-organised and consistent data;

  7. Better utilisation of resources. Computerisation of staff records, assets and maintenance details facilitate better analysis of information for staff planning and optimal utilisation of resources; and

  8. Employee job satisfaction and work environment. The availability of more effective tools will assist LAD staff in providing better quality of service. Manual forms and guidelines can be reduced; thus freeing up space and improving the physical environment in the office.


11. It is estimated that the proposed project, if approved, will take 24 months to complete. A proposed implementation plan is as follows -

ActivitiesStarting Time
Tendering July 1999
Site preparation April 2000
Procurement of hardware and software April 2000
Infrastructure applications live run November 2000
Case management system (first phase) live run December 2000
Personnel management system live run December 2000
Case accounting system live run April 2001
Case management system (second phase) live run June 2001
Assets management system live run June 2001


12. Members are requested to support the implementation of the proposed Integrated Information System in LAD. Thereafter, the proposal will be submitted to the Finance Committee on 2 July 1999 for allocation of funds.

Legal Aid Department
Ref. : LA/ADM/10/9(C)VI

Date : 19 May 1999

Annex I

Summary of the Key Functions of
the Information System Strategy Programme

The major functions of the Information System Strategy Programme are -

  1. Case Management System

    • on-line capture and maintain application data;

    • provide on-line means test assessment and contribution calculation, automatic searches for connected cases and conflict of interest and statement templates for on-line statement taking;

    • provide on-line information for allocation of work among LAD officers and external service providers and record their assignment history;

    • monitor assigned-out cases and record the performance of service providers;

    • maintain an event list for each type of case and automatically bring-up the cases;

    • record the effort used for in-house litigation for cost assessment;

    • specify the chargeable indicator on the list of events, consolidates the cost incurred from the events of a case and generates the Bill of Costs;

    • generate court documents and correspondences to relevant parties;

    • provide a bar-code system for file tracking;

    • provide management information and statistics.

  2. Case Accounting System

    • support accounts of cases;

    • maintain cashbooks electronically;

    • allow for receipt and payment instructions and transactions;

    • provide instalment schedules and reminders to debtors;

    • assist preparation of summary of accounts;

    • generate reports, cheques and official receipts;

    • integrate with Case Management System and provide an interface with the computer system of the Treasury.

  3. Personnel Management System

    • manage staff particulars, posting history, training records;

    • interface with the training records of the Civil Service Training and Development Institute.

  4. Assets Management System

    • maintain details about equipment including computer-related ones;

    • manage the details of maintenance contracts and payment;

    • assist monitoring of purchase orders for computer equipment.

  5. Infrastructure

    • provide a networked environment for 600 users to facilitate the access to corporate applications, e-mail facilities and Internet;

    • store policies guidelines, procedures, announcement, standard forms electronically on the servers and provide on-line search;

    • provide access to the Government e-mail network;

    • allow remote dial-in to the network from notebook for statement taking or use in court;

    • centrally manage all the standard templates for memos, letters and other documents used throughout LAD;

    • provide disaster recovery facilities in the Kowloon Branch Office. The application server will be switched over to the standby system in case of any system failure. During normal operation, the standby system can be used for development / testing / training of the corporate applications.

Annex II

Anticipated Reduction of Posts
in the Legal Aid Department

Number of posts
Rank 2001/02 2002/03 Total
Law Clerk 5 11 16
Assistant Clerical Officer 1 3 4
Clerical Assistant 3 8 11
Supervisor of Typing Services 0 1 1
Personal Secretary II 1 0 1
Typist 1 2 3

Total 11 25 36

Annex III

Breakdown of Costs and Savings
for Implementation of Information System Strategy

A. Non-Recurrent Capital Costs

Hardware and Software 0 23,877 0 23,877
Site preparation 0 5,357 0 5,357
Training 0 949 0 949
Consumables and Miscellaneous 0 373 0 373
Disaster Recovery Equipment & Services 0 965 7 972
Implementation Services 0 5,456 2,085 7,541
ITSD Contract staff for Tendering 1,264 0 0 1,264
Contingency 10% 126 3,698 209 4,033

Subtotal 1,390 40,675 2,301 44,366

Staff Costs
(i) LAD
    Management Involvement
0 3,413 801 4,214
    System Development
42 2,652 168 2,862

Subtotal 42 6,065 969 7,076
(ii) ITSD 256 213 0 469

Subtotal 298 6,278 969 7,545

Total 1,688 46,953 3,270 51,911

B. Recurrent Costs

and annually
Hardware & Software 0 813 1,795
Datalines (Rental) 434 434 434
Consumables and Miscellaneous 0 357 357
Disaster Recovery Equipment & Data Line Rental 7 21 21
Technical Support Services 405 1,389 2,374

Total 846 3,014 4,981

C. Savings

and annually
Realisable savings
(i) Expenditure on current systems 0 1,550 2,269
(ii) LAD staff savings 0 3,473 11,535

Subtotal 0 5,023 13,804

Non-realisable savings
(i) LAD staff savings 3,182 7,962 9,553
(ii) ITSD/Treasury staff savings 0 319 638

Subtotal 3,182 8,281 10,191

Total 3,182 13,304 23,995

IV. Cost-Benefit Analysis (at 1999/00 price level)

Expenditure 1,390 40,675 2,301 0 0 0 0 44,366
Staff 298 6,278 969 0 0 0 0 7,545

Sub-total 1,688 46,953 3,270 0 0 0 0 51,911

Expenditure 0 846 3,014 4,981 4,981 4,981 4,981 23,784
Staff 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Sub-total 0 846 3,014 4,981 4,981 4,981 4,981 23,784


Total Costs 1,688 47,799 6,284 4,981 4,981 4,981 4,981 75,695

Expenditure on current systems 0 0 1,550 2,269 2,269 2,269 2,269 10,626
LAD staff savings 0 0 3,473 11,535 11,535 11,535 11,535 49,613

Sub-total 0 0 5,023 13,804 13,804 13,804 13,804 60,239

LAD staff savings 0 3,182 7,962 9,553 9,553 9,553 9,553 49,356
ITSD/Treasury staff savings 0 0 319 638 638 638 638 2,871

Sub-total 0 3,182 8,281 10,191 10,191 10,191 10,191 52,227

Total savings 0 3,182 13,304 23,995 23,995 23,995 23,995 112,466
Net savings (1,688) (44,617) 7,020 19,014 19,014 19,014 19,014 36,771

Net Present Value (4%) (1,688) (42,901) 6,490 16,903 16,253 15,628 15,027 25,712
Net Cumulative Savings (4%) (1,688) (44,589) (33,099) (21,196) (4,943) 10,685 25,712

Note : 4% is taken to be the real rate for financial appraisal of the computer project.