Tag Archives: Public Law

Civil contracts for 2018 – tender open

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.

 

 

 

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Supreme Court judgment in residence test case

The Supreme Court has issued its judgment in the residence test. As we reported at the time of the hearing, the Court took the very unusual step of upholding the appeal partway through the case. It’s now given its reasons.

In The Public Law Project, R (on the application of) v Lord Chancellor [2016] UKSC 39, Lord Neuburger gave the only judgment, the other six justices agreeing. He only dealt with the first ground of appeal – ultra vires – it being agreed that, as the case won on that ground alone it wasn’t necessary to deal with the other ground (discrimination).

Lord Neuburger held that LASPO defines what civil legal aid services are to be made available by reference to the issue of law, the nature of the services and the need and ability to pay of the individual requiring the services. There is nothing in the Act that excludes groups of people on the grounds of personal circumstances or personal characteristics beyond that – such as resident status – and nothing in the Act that enables such an exclusion to be brought in using the powers given to make secondary legislation. He also noted the strong presumption in statutory interpretation that every Act applies not just to persons belonging to the territory affected by the Act, but also to “foreigners…within its territory”.

We’ve remarked before on the varying interpretations of the statutory purpose of LASPO. Lord Neuburger addressed that as well; “the purpose of Part 1 of LASPO was, in very summary terms, to channel civil legal aid on the basis of the nature and importance of the issue, an individual’s need for financial support, the availability of other funding, and the availability of other forms of dispute resolution. The exclusion of individuals from the scope of most areas of civil legal aid on the ground that they do not satisfy the residence requirements of the proposed order involves a wholly different sort of criterion from those embodied in LASPO and articulated in the 2011 paper.” This is a helpful formulation, putting the emphasis back on targeting need rather than reducing costs.

However, although it’s now clear that the residence test can’t be brought in by statutory instrument, it still could be done by primary legislation. The previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, made clear he supported that – though no legislative plans had been announced. It remains to be seen whether Theresa May – and whoever she appoints as Lord Chancellor – agrees.

 

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Filed under Civil, Family, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Public Law, Social welfare, Uncategorized

Conditional funding for judicial review irrational, High Court says

Part of the government’s “transforming legal aid” agenda was to “restore public confidence” in the operation of judicial review by ensuring that only meritorious cases were brought. The method chosen to achieve that was to make payment for judicial review work conditional on permission being granted by the court (with limited exceptions, at the discretion of the LAA). Regulations to that effect came into force on 22 April 2014.

Four solicitors firms – Ben Hoare Bell, Deighton Pierce Glynn, Mackintosh Law and Public Law Solicitors – and the housing charity Shelter challenged the regulations. The claimants represent the range of judicial review work, covering between them work across categories such as immigration, housing, community care, public law and actions against the police, and were supported by witness evidence from a number of other organisations.

The High Court gave judgment today in Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v The Lord Chancellor [2015] EWHC 523 (Admin). The grounds of challenge were that a) the Lord Chancellor had no power to make the regulations introducing conditional funding; b) the regulations were inconsistent with the statutory purpose of LASPO; and c) that they would have a chilling effect on access to the courts, because providers would not be able to risk taking on work without payment.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Community Care, Costs, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Public Law

CCMS mandatory from October

The LAA announced this week that the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) will become mandatory for new civil applications and bills from 1 October 2015.  The LAA has served notice under clause 20 of the Standard Civil Contract. Organisations should have received formal notification by email, which should be confirmed by post by the end of January.

The LAA says it is giving greater notice than strictly required under the contract to give practitioners time to train and get used to the new system gradually. Feedback from practioners suggests that the LAA also needs to undertake development in order to make the system work well before it becomes mandatory. Resolution has been leading the representative bodies in pressing the LAA for improvements in functionality.

The LAA has made online training modules available which take practitioners through the relevant stages:

  • Getting access to the system
  • Training
  • Starting to use the system
  • Masterclasses
  • Support available

In addition, they have provided face to face sessions in a number of practices. Resolution has provided a comprehensive guide for its members, based on the experience of members in the north east who were involved in the pilot.

CCMS means the way you deal with legal aid administration will have to change significantly. Practitioners would be well advised to take full advantage of the lead in period before October.

 

 

 

 

 

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Good news if you need NMS

The LAA has issued new guidance to its Contract Managers which may make it easier for practitioners to get more civil New Matter Starts (NMS) if they run out.

This is less of an issue than it used to be under the Access to Justice Act scheme when more Controlled Work was done; but we still hear reports from some practitioners that they have run out of NMS and when they asked their Contract Manager for more, were told that another practice in their Procurement Area (PA) still had some, so they should send the client there. This is clearly unsatisfactory from both the client’s and the practice’s point of view.

However, from 22 January 2015, whether another practice in the PA has NMS is no longer to be taken into account.

You will need to convince your Contract Manager:

  • you are unable to meet an urgent demand for your services
  • or
  • an urgent need arises because another practice has reduced or stopped providing the service
  • or
  • there is a general increase in demand for services of that type in your PA

The Contract Manager can authorise up to another 50% on top of your original schedule allocation (so if your initial allocation was 100, you can be awarded up to 50 more that year).

If you applied for a lot size in the tender that allowed you to self grant up to an additonal 50%, you cannot apply to your Contract Manager for more.

In exceptional circumstances, the Contract Manager may be able to grant additional NMS to address emergency situations.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Family, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

Civil tender FAQs published

The LAA today published the FAQs for the current civil tender for clinical negligence, public law and actions against the police etc contracts. Bidders will need to consider them carefully before submission of the tender.

The tender closes at noon on 23 January 2015.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, LASPO, Public Law

Civil contracts tender opens today

As we reported a month ago, a tender for contracts in actions against the police etc, clinical negligence and public law opens today. The tender closes on 23 January and contracts will start on 1 November 2015.

The LAA has now published the Information for Applicants and the contract documents.

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Filed under Civil, LASPO