Categorized | Criminal Justice, Legal Aid

Legal aid contract announcement

Legal aid contract announcement

The MoJ never lose the ability to leave you speechless.

The announcement of winners of new legal aid contracts was promised by the end of September. Firms were expecting to be told last week via the Legal Aid Agency’s Bravo e-tendering portal whether they have won one of a reduced number of contracts to provide 24-hour cover at police stations. But what a cliffhanger that turned out to be. We were told Monday, then Tuesday, then Wednesday. On Wednesday we were told “soon” On Thursday we were told “by the end of the week.”

Then on Friday a statement from the MoJ said: “We regret that we will not be able to notify bidders this week about the outcome of the crime duty tender, as previously indicated. We understand the anxiety this could cause bidding organisations and are working hard to finalise the quality assurance required to make sure these important decisions are right. We will now notify all bidders on Thursday 15 October.”

Despite the delay, the ministry said new duty and own-client contracts will still commence on 11 January next year.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “I have written to the lord chancellor today to express my grave and significant concerns about the impact of the continued delay of the announcement on duty contracts and the effect this will have on our members where livelihoods are at stake.”

In a saga that has been running almost as long as ‘The Archers’, the LAA are now demanding more time. Is this blithering incompetence or something more serious? Probably a bit of both.

Bill Waddington, chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, described the announcement as “absolutely extraordinary.” Jonathan Black, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, said it welcomed the delay “as it is perhaps giving the MoJ a chance to pause and consider whether they really are doing the right thing with these proposals.”

“Many firms, bidders and non-bidders alike, are feeling the stress of uncertainty as they wait to find out if they and their staff are condemned,” Black said. “We would hope for more of an explanation given what is at stake so that the firms with so much riding on this have some certainty one way or another.”

At the last minute the MoJ have decided that they need to do more ‘quality assurance’ on a process that has been deeply flawed from the start. They have perhaps worked out late in the day that their assessment process could be vulnerable to scrutiny by the court.

Someone is bound to issue a JR.

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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