Tag Archives: LSC

SQM updated

The LSC has recently uploaded a revised SQM and guidance onto its website. There is also a guide to the areas that have been updated. The current version is now the one dated May 2012.

The changes are relatively minor, updating terminology and bringing the SQM equality and diversity requirements into line with those in the contract. You will need to take them into account next time you review your office manual.

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Filed under Civil, Crime, Family, Handbook, Social welfare

More details on tenders

The LSC has published some more information on the forthcoming face to face and telephone tenders.

Each tender now has a dedicated webpage, which you should monitor regularly for updates and announcements – the face to face one is here and the telephone one here.

The PQQs will open on 21st May and close at noon on 18th June. Anyone considering bidding should submit a PQQ. By doing so you are not bound to tender, but if you don’t you can’t. Organisations that pass the PQQ will receive an Invitation to Tender, with ITTs expected to open in September.

There is also more information on the revised categories following the scope changes in the Act:

  • Debt: Covers mortgage possession of the home, orders for sale of the home, and involuntary bankruptcy (including dealing with a statutory demand) where the person’s estate includes their home.
  • Discrimination: Civil legal services provided in relation to a contravention of the Equality Act 2010.
  • Education (Special Educational Needs): Special educational needs matters arising under Part 4 of the Education Act 1996, and assessments relating to learning difficulties for young people under the Learning and Skills Act 2000
  • Family: Public family law regarding protection of children; private family where there is evidence of domestic violence and private law children cases where there is evidence of child abuse. Also includes child abduction matters and representation for child parties in private family cases. Legal advice in support of mediation. Domestic violence injunction cases or forced marriage protection order cases.
  • Housing: Covers possession of the home (other than mortgage possession), eviction from the home (including unlawful eviction); seeking repairs to rented accommodation where the disrepairs pose a serious risk of harm to health or safety; homelessness assistance for persons who are homeless or threatened with homelessness; injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in the context of housing and ASBO matters in the county court.
  • Immigration & Asylum:
    • Immigration (Asylum) – similar to the current legal aid provision for clients seeking asylum.
    • Immigration (non-Asylum) – for the purposes of the mainstream contract this work covers certain domestic violence applications, SIAC proceedings and certain immigration applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK by victims of human trafficking.
  • Mediation: Mediation to resolve family law disputes.

This confirms the scope of the work (discrimination, education and debt) that will go through the mandatory telephone gateway. It makes clear that mortgage possession cases will be regarded as debt not housing and therefore anyone with a mortgage possession case will have to go through the gateway. This further reduces the work that will be in the scope of the housing face to face category. It seems to be a rather arbitrary distinction, no doubt to ensure that there is actually some debt work covered by the gateway.

On housing possession duty schemes, there is further confusion – having said previously that all contracts would be tendered, and last week that only new ones transferred over from DCLG would be, the LSC now say “additional and replacement” schemes will be tendered for.

Existing mediation contracts will continue, but the LSC is tendering for more to increase capacity.

There is as yet no information on the volumes of work expected to be available, or the details of how the ITTs will be dealt with, or the detailed funding arrangements for cases under the new scheme.

Separately, the LSC have also published the Standard Terms for the new contracts. These are the final versions, there having already been a consultation process with representative bodies. There is also a dedicated page for 2013 contracts and you should monitor that regularly for updates.

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Filed under Civil, Family, Immigration, Social welfare

Weekly round up

In this update:

  • Legal aid judicial reviews
  • Legal aid bill in the House of Lords
  • Important news for former clients of the Immigration Advisory Service
  • Criminal bills
  • Family high cost cases
  • New LSC addresses

Continue reading

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Filed under Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Immigration, LASPO

LSC concede judicial review; specialist support reprieved

Specialist support service contracts, allowing contract holders to provide expert consultancy across civil and social welfare law, were reprieved today when the LSC conceded a judicial review action brought by the Public Law Project.

Contracts were due to expire at the end of March 2012, and the LSC informed the providers in December that they did not intend to extend the contracts (which they had the power to do) or to re-tender them. Instead they proposed to abolish the specialist support service. There was no consultation, either with the providers of the service, its users or the wider public.

The Public Law Project, represented by Leigh Day & Co and with the support of all the other specialist support providers, issued judicial review proceedings earlier this month challenging the decision to end the scheme without proper consultation and without a full equality impact assessment.

Today, even before permission stage, the LSC conceded the claim, withdrew its decision to end the service and confirmed that there will be a full consultation on the future of the service in March. In the meantime, existing contracts will be extended to 30th June 2012.

Therefore the specialist support service has been, temporarily at least, reprieved pending a review of its future. Contact details for each of the providers are below. All are open Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm and will continue to be so until at least 30th June 2012.

  • Community Care – Public Law Solicitors, 0845 140 5006
  • Debt – Citizens Advice, 0808 808 2575
  • Employment – Citizens Advice, 0808 808 3681
  • Housing – Shelter, 0844 515 2113 (England), Shelter Cymru 0845 602 3449 (Wales)
  • Immigration – Wilson Solicitors, 0845 677 2205
  • Mental Health – Scott Moncrieff, 0844 800 3364
  • Public Law – The Public Law Project, 0808 808 4546
  • Welfare Benefits – Child Poverty Action Group, 0845 612 8007 (England), LASA, 0845 271 3230 (Wales)




Filed under Civil

Weekly round up

Legal aid bill

As we reported earlier in the week, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights criticised a number of aspects of the bill, points that were echoed in the first day of the Lords Committee Stage on Tuesday. The transcript of that debate is here, and the bill homepage on the Parliament website is also a useful resource.

Family Advocacy Scheme

The LSC have issued guidance (PDF) on claiming for work done under FAS. See also the announcement on the LSC website for more information.

Immigration and Asylum court fees

New court fees for some immigration cases have been introduced. Legally aided clients will not be required to pay the fee, and those who become legally aided during the life of the case can apply for a refund. However, if the fee is paid it is not a recoverable disbursement, since legally aided clients are exempt from paying the fee.

In other news

We reported this week also on the appointment of a new LSC chief executive, Matthew Coats, and on a potentially important development for firms not awarded a contract in the recent tender round.

Finally, have a very peaceful Christmas break and our best wishes for the year ahead.


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Filed under Family, Immigration, Legal aid bill

New LSC chief executive

The LSC have announced their new chief executive, Matthew Coats currently of the UK Border Agency.

Moving from one agency with its fair share of troubles to another, he has significant work to do to improve relations between the LSC and providers and to halt its administrative collapse of recent months. The next two or three years promise to be amongst the most difficult in the history of legal aid, and strong independent leadership at the LSC will be more important than ever.

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