The family tender has been open now for almost two weeks, and the LSC have published the first tranche of FAQs. The deadline for the submission of questions – which must be sent via the e-tendering system – is noon on the 19th September, and the final FAQs will be published on the family tender page of the LSC website on 23rd September. The Law Society has issued a practice note to assist firms in tendering for contracts. See our earlier post if you are considering relying on Lexcel accreditation as part of your tender.
Processing times at the LSC are improving. The latest processing dates for civil and crime indicate that the LSC is now working about 4 to 6 weeks behind. The LSC is urging practitioners to sign up to submit POA1, CDS4, CDS5 and CDS7 forms online, on the basis that they will be dealt with more quickly than those submitted on paper.
The LSC continues to show no sign of having a sense of irony; the latest manifestation of this is an article on its website remonstrating with practitioners for not paying expert witnesses on time. The article is, though, useful as a reminder of the circumstances in which a payment on account can be claimed.
With just two weeks to go before the first tranche of fee cuts, the LSC is now offering training for practitioners on the new arrangements. Revised civil costs assessment guidance is currently undergoing the required consultation with representative bodies, and we hope the final version will be published in time for the 3rd October. The revised criminal legal aid manual has now been released and is available here.
Elsewhere, the committee stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill continued. Scrutiny and debate of the legal aid clauses has now finished and the committee has moved on to other parts of the bill. Regrettably, there have been no changes to the bill as published, except for some small government amendments affecting housing legal aid. Nearly Legal has a good analysis of those clauses.
Finally, well worth reading is a post on Lucy Reed’s Pink Tape blog; both an outburst of frustration at the state of legal aid and a moving tribute to her grandfather, it should be compulsory reading at the LSC and MoJ.