The LAA has issued some clarification regarding the volumes of services available, and as a result has extended the deadline for submitting bids to 11 December at 5pm. Applicants should be using version 3 of the Information for Applicants. More detail can be found here.
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The LAA has sent emails to holders of civil, family and mediation contract holders to inform them about contract extensions to 31 August 2018.
Holders of 2010 contracts (Mediation) and 2013 contracts (Family, Immigration/Asylum, Housing/Debt) need to send back an acceptance form. The letters attached to emails give a deadline of 5 December 2017, the website says 6 December 2017.
Holders of Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme contracts will receive an extension offer in due course.
Holders of welfare benefits, mental health, and community care contracts will have their contracts extended automatically.
Holders of AAP etc., clinical negligence and public law contracts will have their contracts terminated earlier than originally envisaged, so that they will also end on 31 August 2018.
If you haven’t received an email, you should contact the LAA’s central commissioning team: email@example.com
More information can be found here.
The Legal Aid Agency has published the frequently asked questions and answers in respect of the 2018 face to face contracts. There are two documents you should consider:
- FAQs relating to the Seelction Questionnaire
- FAQs relating to the Face to Face contracts themselves
The LAA has also published a separate FAQ document dealing with the CLA telephone service tender (to be found further down on the same page).
Once you have checked the answers against your response to the tender and made any changes necessary, you will be ready to submit.
There have been several developments since we reported that the LAA opened the tender for face to face civil and family contracts to start in September 2018.
Tender open for HPCDS
The Agency has gone ahead with a complex price competitve tender for Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes (HPCDS), which seems unlikely to solve the crisis in finding sufficient practitioners to provide the schemes; but only time will tell. More information can be found here.
Most people are finding the process straightforward
However, most of the feedback we are receiving from practitioners bidding for face to face contracts is that the process is more straightforward than they anticipated.
People like the button which checks whether they have responded to all the questions they need to.
They also like being able to download a PDF of their bid. On the relevant ITT page, look out for the three little dots in the top right hand corner. If you click on that and then select ‘printable view’, you will be able to download a PDF of your bid.
The LAA has issued some initial frequently asked questions – FAQs. These are worth reading. Amongst other things, they confirm that you will be able to withdraw from part of your bid without jeopardising the rest of it (FAQ 10.1).
All successful bidders will get 5 miscellaneous NMS; but you can bid for 25 or more to undertake compensation claims for vicitims of trafficking and modern slavery. ATLEU (legal charity the Anti Trafficking and Legal Exploitation Unit) is encouraging practitioners to apply. They point out that this work is ideally suited to employment lawyers, discriminantion lawyers, personal injury lawyers and civil litigators more generally. With claims for failure to pay the National Minimum Wage (which are often a feature of such cases) being worth upwards of £100,000, perhaps this is worth considering? More details can be found on ATLEU’s website.
The LAA announced on Thursday 12 October that the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS) tender was open, which meant that all tenders for contracts to do legal aid work from the autumn of 2018 are now live. Details can be found here
The deadline to submit a HPCDS tender, which includes competition on price, is 4 December 2017.
To hold a HPCDS contract you must hold a Housing contract – tender deadline 10 November 2017.
CLA telephone service
The tender deadline for telephone services (which includes competition on price) in Housing and Debt, Family, Education and Discrimination is 10 November 2017.
Face to face contracts in all civil categories, family law and mediation
The tender for these contracts do not include price competition. Every applicant which submits a technically correct bid will be offered a contract. The deadline for submission is 10 November 2017. There is more information here.
The Legal Aid Agency has opened the tender for civil, family and mediation contracts to start on 1 September 2018. If you want to do legal aid work after 31 August 2018, you must submit a bid by the closing date and time 10 November at 5pm. Details can be found here.
The contracts will run for three years with an option for the LAA to extend for two years. Existing contracts are being extended.
You need to bid using the LAA’s tendering portal here.
Apart from Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes (HPCDS) and the CLA telephone service, bids are not competitive. As long as you can demonstrate that you meet the LAA’s requirements, and submit a technically correct bid, you will get a contract. The details of the tenders for HPCDS and CLA contracts will be released soon.
Top tips for successful bids
- Read the Information for Applicants carefully. The answers are almost always in there somewhere
- Where they are not, submit a question through the message board on the portal – the LAA publishes all questions and answers received
- Read the FAQs carefully and submit your bid after the final ones are published; but comfortably in advance of the tender closing date
- Register your bids on the portal as early as you can and start completing the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and the Invitation to Tender(s) (ITTs) you are interested in. You will know some of the answers straight away and can come back to the ones you need to go away and find information to complete
- Allocate a small team to the bid – say two people to complete it and a third to check it
- Make sure several people are registered to receive emails about the bid. Sometimes the LAA raises queries that need to be answered quickly. You don’t want to miss them
The Law Society is running tender workshops throughout England and Wales. They are recommended. Details here.
LAPG is also running workshops between 27 September – 3 October – details here – also recommended.
Further to its announcement, which we covered on the blog yesterday, the LAA has provided further information about its market engagement events for those interested in finding out more and providing an opportunity to influence the way Courts are grouped together in the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme tenders.
This is important as these bids will include an element of price competition, so the more you understand the LAA’s ratioanle, the better. They start very soon:
- Birmingham – 29 August
- Manchester – 30 August
- Leeds – 4 September
- London – 5 and 7 September
- Liverpool – 6 September
- Bristol – 8 September
We hope all practitioners thinking of submitting bids will take up this opportunity. You can find out more information, including how to book, here.