Crime tender notifications released today

The LAA has been sending bidders for crime duty contracts the outcomes of their tenders today. At the time of writing, many firms still had not been told their result. The LAA have told the Law Society Gazette that they will release all results before midnight.

Even those results that have been released have not been trouble free. One firm was briefly awarded a contract in Cheshire despite neither being based nor having bid there. Legal aid consultant David Gilmore tweeted that he knew of two bids which failed because they had been marked down for not discussing working with partners – even though they weren’t proposing to deliver in a partnership.

The results were delayed because of “quality assurance”. That “quality assured” results nevertheless contain such glaring errors is worrying, and lends support to the allegations of poor quality processing and decision making made by one of those assessing the bids yesterday. It is hard to see an explanation for taking 15 hours to contact less than 1,100 bidders unless the process is still not finished.

The LAA also announced today that the timetable for the rest of the process hasn’t been lengthened despite the delays. Successful bidders must confirm acceptance by 23:59 on 20 October – only three working days for those not notified until this evening. That is despite the whole economic model on which many will have tendered having since been undermined by the advocacy consultation and the court closure programme announced since bidding closed. Whatever the truth of yesterday’s allegations – a matter that will no doubt be much litigated in the coming months – the way that the LAA has handled this process has been quite disgraceful.

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