LASPO Impacts

The Commons Justice Committee is holding an enquiry into the impact of LASPO. It took oral evidence earlier this week on housing, immigration and family cases – you can read the transcript here (and see here Nearly Legal’s take on the kind offer of one MP on the committee).

Meanwhile, the written evidence submitted to the enquiry is also available; it makes interesting, if depressing, reading.

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Filed under Civil, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Policy

Tender update

More news on a couple of ongoing or upcoming tenders:

  • The LAA has published an advert for the forthcoming clinical negligence, public law and actions against the police tenders. The tender opens on 1 December and closes on 23 January 2015.
  • The final FAQ for the current mediation tender has been published. This tender closes at noon on 31 October 2014. Remember that this tender is only for new entrants; existing mediation contract holders don’t need to apply unless they want to open additional locations.


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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Family, Public Law

New Complaints Handling Toolkit Published

Vicky has written the Law Society’s new Complaints Handling Toolkit in conjunction with Fiona Westwood. It is published today and is designed to help practices implement best practice and meet their regulatory requirements. It provides draft policies, procedural checklists and other useful templates that you can use to supplement your existing complaints procedure or to create a new one. Here is a sample of just some of the templates you can access through the Complaints Handling Toolkit:

  • Written complaints policy
  • Written complaints procedural checklist
  • Sample complaints form
  • Letter acknowledging complaint
  • Letter of apology
  • Complaints training policy for staff
  • Self-audit checklist
  • Referral letter to the Legal Ombudsman
  • Template annual complaints report

All of the templates are provided on the book’s accompanying CD-ROM so you can customise them as needed.

Having a good and effective complaints policy is ever more important – it helps meet your regulatory and funding requirements and helps avoid the cost and time of managing complaints to the Ombudsman. This toolkit will help you ensure your complaints procedure is everything you need it to be.

Click the cover image to the right, or the link here, to buy your copy now.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Crime consultation closes this week

The crime consultation closes this week – on 15th October. It is important that all crime practitioners, and anyone else concerned with the future of criminal legal aid, respond.

The consultation documents and reports can be found here. Vicky worked with Andrew Otterburn on the Otterburn report, which is one of the documents being consulted on – you can read their response to the consultation here. And the LCCSA and CLSA have created a “response hub” to help simplify the process of responding – you can see that here.

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Filed under Crime, Policy

LAA updates guidance manuals

There have been a series of amendments and additions to LAA guidance materials recently:

Links to the latest versions of all documents can be found on our Resources page.

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Filed under Civil, Costs, Crime, Family

Family mediation tender opens today

The LAA has opened a tender for new mediation contracts to start on 1 February 2015. The tender will remain open until 31 October 2014. Organisations with existing contracts need not do anything unless they want to open new outreach locations.The IFA and further information can be found here.

All organisations meeting the LAA’s requirements and completing the tender correctly will be offered a contract.


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Filed under Family

Civil certificate means test – passported applications

Our thanks to Colin Henderson for drawing to our attention the following passage from FAQs released following the LAA’s recent provider reference group meetings:

Can the LAA reconsider what level of additional financial information is asked for from passported clients?
We have recently reviewed this and changed the evidence required to one month’s worth of bank statements in relation to civmeans 2 cases.
We’ve also reminded caseworkers of the discretion available when dealing with applications from vulnerable clients, e.g. those who are homeless.
We need to ask about third party finances where the client may be supported by a third party but, again, the caseworker should exercise discretion, taking the relevant circumstances into account.

Reducing the evidence requirement from three to one month’s worth of bank statements is welcome, as it should significantly reduce the bureaucracy and problems with obtaining evidence associated with legal aid applications. However, we would advise approaching it with some caution. The latest version of the means form itself (see page 13) still requires three months statements, not one. And experience suggests that changes of this type often take some time to filter down to front-line caseworkers. The safest approach would seem to be to submit three months where you can, and where you can’t submit one month and quote the above passage.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Family, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare