Tag Archives: news

Face to face tender – timetable news and an unexpected development

The LSC has announced the timetable for submitting ITTs for contracts to start in April 2013.

The ITT will open on Friday 14 September and close at noon on 22 October.

Organisations that have already submitted a PQQ successfully will receive an invitation to complete the ITT and do not need to do anything more.

Any organisation that missed the PQQ stage has a second chance to submit one. This will open on 14 September and close on 28 September. This is very unexpected; but will be warmly welcomed by those who missed the original deadline.

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Filed under Civil, Family, Immigration, Uncategorized

News round up

In this update:

  • Legal aid and the Olympics
  • Assessing the means of prisoners
  • Devolved powers for judicial review
  • Why LGFS claims are rejected
  • LSC release annual statistics
  • Calling the LSC
  • Regulation of solicitors in NfPs

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Filed under Articles, Civil, Costs, Crime

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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Major concession on legal aid bill?

The Mirror reports that the government “is ditching plans to cut legal aid in medical negligence cases”. While that would be a welcome move – and perhaps not unexpected; clinical negligence and domestic violence being at the top of most predictions of likely concessions – the Gazette is reporting that the Ministry of Justice is neither confirming nor denying the report and there has certainly been no official announcement. LAG speculates that it is likely that there will be such a concession, but that it has leaked rather earlier than the government would have liked.

Whatever the true position, it does seem certain that the legal aid bill is in for a much less smooth passage through the Lords than the Commons, having been heavily criticised by all speakers except the minister at second reading earlier in the week. When there are confirmed changes, we will bring them to you.

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A sticking plaster on a broken leg

On the day the legal aid bill has its second reading in the House of Lords, there is finally some detail on the £20 million announced during the Commons stages of the bill.

The Cabinet Office has announced £16.8million to help fund the advice sector in England (the balance going to the devolved administrators, who do not seem to have made any announcements yet).

The fund will be administered by the Big Lottery, and will support housing, debt, welfare benefits and employment advice services. Each grant will be for service delivery and be between £40,000 and £70,000. To qualify, organisations must show that they provide advice in at least one of those areas and have suffered a cut of least 10% in central or local government funding in the financial year 2011-12. More details of the exact criteria will follow when applications open before the end of the month.

There is also to be a review of the future of the advice sector, concluding early next year, though there has as yet been no further detail on that.

£17million, while welcome, is a small amount compared to the cuts social welfare advice providers are facing; scope cuts, of course, will not take effect until the next financial year.

Meanwhile, the House of Lords debate on second reading can be seen here; how much reliance will ministers place on this new fund to try to placate opposition?

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Filed under Civil, Legal aid bill, Policy, Social welfare

Carolyn Downs to leave the LSC

In a press release yesterday, the Local Government Association (LGA) announced that it has appointed Carolyn Downs as the new Chief Executive of the organisation.

Sir Merrick Cockell, LG Group Chairman, commented on the appointment: “I am delighted to welcome Carolyn as Chief Executive of the LGA. She brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked at every tier of government nationally, regionally and locally – and for virtually every different type of local authority.”

Carolyn expressed a genuine desire to improve legal aid administration, and her approach impressed many legal aid practitioners. Her departure at this crucial time must be a further cause for concern.

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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Immigration, Legal aid bill, Policy