2013 Contracts – what we know so far

As we reported last week, the LSC has put a lot of material on the CLA (telephone services) tender pages of its website. Some of this is only relevant to the CLA tender, but much of it is also relevant to how face to face contracts will operate from next April. So what is there?

  • The category definitions, which set out what work you will be able to do in each category of law. Since there will be no tolerance work, and each category is exclusive (meaning you must have a contract in the category to work in it), the definitions are important. They have changed, but in quite subtle ways, since the last version was published a couple of months ago. If you are planning on tendering for a contract next month, you will need to know what work you will be able to do (and what work you do now but can’t in the future). This document will tell you.
  • The merits regulations (in draft) replace the Funding Code Criteria and set out the tests for granting legal aid. They are similar, but not identical, to the Funding Code and again repay analysis.
  • The procedure regulations (draft) replace the Funding Code Procedures, and again are similar but not identical.
  • Of vital importance to family lawyers, the first clear policy statement setting out what and how evidence of domestic violence will be acceptable to demonstrate eligibility for legal aid in private law cases
  • A policy statement on connected matters, replacing the old “mixed cases” rule, which basically confirms that where you have a case that is both in and out of scope, you will only be able to do the in-scope part. For example, in a housing possession case where the arrears are caused by housing benefit problems, you will be able to represent your client in the housing proceedings but not do any work on the benefit problems (or not be paid for doing so, at any rate).
  • A policy statement on the new financial eligibility rules
  • Transitional arrangements setting out how cases started under the current rules and continuing under the new ones will be dealt with.
  • The CLA contract specification, which is partly concerned with how telephone cases will be dealt with but also contains details on managing face to face cases (both legal help and certificate), since education and discrimination contracts will be mixed phone and face to face. It is therefore a useful preview of the forthcoming face to face specification and again will help you assess what work you can do in the future.

The Advice Services Alliance have been running training on where we have got to with the legal aid reform programme. They have now posted the training notes online and they are a very useful summary (accurate as at 13th August) and well worth reading both to bring yourself up to date and in preparation for the forthcoming tender round.

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Filed under Civil, Family, Immigration, LASPO, Policy, Social welfare

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