Tag Archives: LAG

The new Handbook – coming very soon!

The brand new edition of the LAG Legal Aid Handbook will be published at the beginning of April. Fully revised and updated, this edition features

  • full coverage of the new 2017 crime contract
  • latest changes and updates to the civil scheme
  • discussion of current case law and hot topics in legal aid practice
  • hints, tips and practical advice from how to manage a contract to navigating CCMS
  • specialist chapters on billing, crime, public family law, private family law, housing, mental health, immigration and exceptional funding
  • a dedicated section for advocates
  • guidance on managing legal aid work and tendering for contracts
  • a full round up of the latest policy developments

The Handbook is edited by Vicky Ling and Simon Pugh, and features contributions from a range of subject experts including Anthony Edwards, Steve Hynes, Richard Charlton, Solange Valdez-Symonds and Katie Brown.

You can pre-order your copy now by e-mailing: direct.orders@marston.co.uk or phoning: 01235 465577, or by clicking here.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Advocacy, Articles, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Mental Health, Policy, Public Law, Social welfare

Upcoming training – with free books!

Our publisher LAG is running training courses by two of the Handbook’s editors as part of its autumn training programme.

Vicky Ling is delivering “Managing Civil Legal Aid Contracts” in London on 15 September. Participants get a free copy of the Handbook. More details here.

Anthony Edwards is embarking on a national tour speaking on criminal costs. Participants get a free copy of our sister publication, Anthony’s book (with Colin Beaumont) Criminal Costs. More details, including dates and venues, here.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

The New Handbook – coming soon

Legal Aid cover 15-16

 

The new edition of the LAG Legal Aid Handbook will be published in mid-September. With more content than ever before, it’s the only comprehensive guide to the whole legal aid scheme and is packed with case studies, checklists and practical advice. It’s right up to date, with full discussions of the latest caselaw and the recent changes to the civil merits tests. The crime chapters include a full guide to the new duty and own provider contracts starting in January 2016, and for the first time, we’ve included separate chapters on housing cases and exceptional funding.

We welcome back our collaborators Anthony Edwards (crime) and Steve Hynes (policy), and for this edition are delighted to add to the team Solange Valdez (immigration) and Richard Charlton (mental health).

For the first time, purchasers of the book will get access to a supporting website containing the full text of the Handbook, which we will keep up to date between editions – so your copy will always be right up to date. We’ll also continue to support the Handbook through our regular news updates and case reports, and our comprehensive resources page.

The 2015/16 LAG Legal Aid Handbook is available to pre-order now.

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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Policy, Social welfare

Sorting myths from facts over housing cases

Many of our readers with an interest in housing legal aid will have seen the excellent article in this month’s Legal Action, “Sorting myths from facts over housing cases” by Sara Stephens and Jan Luba QC. Many of the citations in the article were to the legal aid reform FAQs issued when LASPO first came into force in 2013, but which are no longer available on the LAA website since it migrated to the gov.uk domain. Fortunately we saved a copy, and they are available here (final version) and on our LASPO Resources page, which also includes the two earlier versions.

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Summer sale – 20% off the Handbook

Our publisher LAG is running a summer sale. For August only, it is offering 20% off the Handbook and up to 30% off a range of its other excellent titles. Click here for more details of the offer.

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Low Commission calls for £100m for social welfare law

After a year long enquiry, the Low Commission has published its report on social welfare law advice and support. You can download the report here.

It calls for a national strategy for advice and legal support as the current approach is failing the poorest and most vulnerable.

Crucially, it has identified that £100m funding is needed, half from central government and the other half from other sources, including payday loan companies. The report also calls for:

  • A cross-departmental ministerial post to oversee the implementation of an advice and support strategy
  • Restoration of legal aid for housing cases so that people do not have to wait until eviction is imminent
  • Urgent reform of the exceptional case provisions under section 10 of LASPO, as they are clearly failing to provide a safety net

We hope that the report will be studied by all political parties as they consider their policy positions in the run up to the next Westminster elections.

 

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Introducing the new Handbook

1st April 2013. LASPO day. The day the new legal aid scheme began. Except, for most, it wasn’t. It was Easter Monday. Today is the real LASPO day, the day the cuts bite in earnest, the day that over 600,000 people will no longer get legal aid, the day some organisations won’t open their doors to greet their clients – and never will again.

For those of us left, there is a whole new legal aid scheme to get used to. New contracts, new rules, new legislation. We start again almost from scratch.

What should have happened is that the MoJ and LSC planned an orderly transition. Contracts issued; guidance written; regulations laid. And all in good time to allow us to be trained and understand the new scheme.

What did happen is that many crucial regulations were not laid until a couple of weeks ago; guidance is still being published today, and the LAA’s training programme is only half complete. Those who have attended the training in the last couple of weeks will know that the stock answers to most questions are “we are waiting for the MoJ to issue guidance on that” and “we don’t know, we’ll put it in the FAQ on the website”. Even some of the LAA’s own staff don’t understand the new scheme. Some essential material – like amendments to the crime contract specification – have not yet even been published and so can’t come into force for at least another six weeks.

We have tried to produce a Handbook that practitioners will find useful. As new material has been released we have drafted and re-drafted. The Handbook is the only single volume comprehensive guide to the legal aid scheme, and we want to keep it that way. As of 10 days ago, we had finally got all the crucial civil material and had a final draft of the civil, contract management and policy sections complete. Thanks to the herculean efforts of our publisher, Legal Action Group – and especially Esther Pilger, who has moved heaven and earth – we were able to go from final draft to publication within a week. All that we needed was the amendments to the criminal contract specification, and we were ready to go. The LSC – as it still was – said that they would be implemented by the end of April, which meant publication by mid-March. That came and went with no further explanation, and we still don’t have them.

But without them we can’t finalise the crime chapters. This left us in a real dilemma. If we waited – for who knows how long? – for the crime position to be finalised, those of our readers waiting for the civil sections would not get the Handbook at the start of April, when it is needed most. If we publish at the start of April, our crime readers would not have the correct information about their contracts. And we don’t know – and can’t get the LAA to tell us – how long it will be before the April amendments to the crime contract are published. April? May? Longer?

So we have come up with a solution that we hope will work. We are releasing the new edition of the Handbook as an e-book only today. This contains fully up to date and complete material for everything except the three crime chapters (which are updated as far as we could prior to the publication of all the material). You can download it from Amazon here. As soon as we can, we will finalise the crime chapters and will then release an update of the e-book (entirely free to those who have already bought it) and publish the paper version. We will keep you informed through this website about our progress.

The e-book is a Kindle version, which can be read on a Kindle device, or using the Kindle app on a desktop computer, ipad, iphone or Android phone or tablet, and you can find details of how to do so here

For those who pre-ordered the paper edition, we apologise for the delay in publication and we hope you understand that it was entirely out of our hands. We can not release the paper edition before it is accurate and complete. But rather than just waiting to publish the paper version we wanted to make sure that all those who needed the information from the start of April were able to get it, so we are publishing in two stages. We know this is not an ideal situation; but it is not of our making and this is the best way forward we can come up with. We waited as long as we could; had the crime amendments come out last week, we could have published the paper version this week. But if we waited any longer, the Handbook would not be available to civil lawyers facing the biggest change in a generation.

Perhaps we should have anticipated it; but even with our combined experience of working in legal aid, we did not predict that the MoJ and LSC/LAA would be so shambolic as to not manage to publish the contractual framework governing the implementation of the legal aid Act until after it came into force. This is not tragedy repeating itself as farce, this is both happening at the same time.

Not a good start.

 

 

 

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