Firms with existing crime contracts have until 28 April to accept the LAA’s offer of a contract extension to 10 January 2016. If the LAA does not receive an acceptance, the firm’s contract will end on either 30 June or or 30 September, depending on whether they accepted the previous extension offer. More information is available here.
The deadline for the Duty Contract tender, for contracts starting on 11 January 2016 is 12 noon on 5 May. Firms are urged to plan their submissions carefully as the tender rules are complex and the application is demanding. Do not under-estimate how long it will take to check your bid. More information from the LAA can be downloaded here.
This evening’s Panorama reported on the cuts to civil legal aid, focussing on private family law. It included interviews with the Lord Chancellor who introduced LASPO, Ken Clarke, as well as retired judges, lawyers and litigants affected by the cuts. It can be seen on the iPlayer here, and an article by the programme reporter Raphael Rowe can be seen here.
The practitioner groups failed in their Court of Appeal challenge to the MoJ’s Duty Contract tender today. You can read the judgment here.
The LAA immediately announced that the tender will re-open on Friday 27 March and close at noon on Tuesday 5 May 2015. More information is available here.
That means consideration of bids by the LAA will occur after the general election and there is a considerable difference between Conservative and Labour party policies in respect of Duty Contracts. Labour party policy has been clarified recently and shadow ministers have now confirmed more than once, that they would not retain the dual contract model.
Practitioners could find themselves in the unenviable position of going to a great deal of effort to prepare and submit bids, only for the tender to be scrapped, depending on the outcome of the election.
The litigation has had the effect of delaying the start date of the new contracts to 11 January 2016, which will require a further extension of the current 2010 contract beyond its five year term.
It seems unlikely that the process will conclude without further litigation, either by the representative bodies or individual firms.