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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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

Civil tenders announced

The LAA has announced that it will open tenders in December for contracts in actions against the police, clinical negligence and public law. Contracts will run from November 2015.

It has published a headline intentions document. It confirms that it will be a non-competitive process, with all applicants meeting the tender requirements being awarded a contract. The requirements will include:

  • Lexcel or SQM held by contract start date
  • Supervisor:caseworker ratio of 1:4, with an amended clinical negligence supervisor standard
  • 7 procurement areas rather than the existing 12.

Matter starts in clinical negligence will be unrestricted. In actions against the police and public law, there will be two lots. Bidders in the lower lot will be guaranteed the matter starts they bid for. Bidders in the higher lot (for which there will be additional requirements) will be allocated at least the minimum volume for the lot.

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

New crime consultation

After losing last week’s judicial review, the MoJ has rushed out a consultation on the two reports (by KPMG and Otterburn Consulting) it commissioned into the state of the criminal legal aid market and firms’ likely response to the cuts.

It is a very short consultation – only three weeks – and expressly not on the policy decisions, merely on the reports, their conclusions and the assumptions that underpin them.

The consultation documents, the reports and how to respond can be found here. It closes on 15th October.

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Filed under Crime, Policy

Legal aid: special report

The Guardian has published a series of excellent articles today on the impact of the legal aid cuts:

There is also coverage of yesterday’s report from the Children’s Commissioner, including that it has prompted Simon Hughes to review the impact of the cuts. It seems he was surprised to discover that his support for removing legal aid from many cases involving children left them unrepresented.

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Filed under Civil, LASPO, Policy

MOJ loses two legal aid JRs

Rights of Women have been successful in obtaining permission to challenge the requirements to produce evidence of domestic violence/abuse as set out in Regulation 33 of the Civil Legal Aid Procurement Regulations 2012 (as amended in April 2014).  They argued that the regulations are too narrowly drafted and do not give effect to Parliament’s intention to protect people who are victims of violence/abuse. ROW were represented by the Public Law Project and supported by the Law Society. A full hearing is expected before the end of the year.

The LCCSA and CLSA were also successful in challenging the consultation process in relation to the proposed tender for crime Duty Contracts. However, the application to quash the second 8.75% fee cut next year was not granted. The judgment can be downloaded here.

It now appears that the MOJ will have to run a further short period of consultation, which could make the timetable, already tight, even more challenging. The MOJ tweeted that they were considering the techical issues concerning the consulation. We await further official announcements in due course.

 

 

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Filed under Advocacy, Crime, Family, LASPO