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Tag Archive | "Zoe Gascoyne"

Crime Contingency Contracts

Following justice secretary Michael Gove’s January decision to scrap a controversial ‘two-tier’ contracting regime, for which firms competed to secure one of 527 duty provider contracts, replacement contracts were expected to come into force later this year.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is now offering to extend current contingency contracts, which were due to expire on 10 January 2017, to 31 March 2017. Providers have until 30 June to accept the offer.

The LAA said: “This extension is needed so that we can:

  • allow the tender process and mobilisation period to be completed so providers can prepare for a new crime contract in 2017
  • ensure continuity of crime services from 11 January 2017 to the start date of the replacement crime contract Letters will be issued to all Crime Contingency Contract holders shortly. Providers will have until 23.59 on 30 June to accept the contract extension. “Any providers who do not accept the extension will retain a contract to the current end date of 10 January 2017.”

The LAA also announced that it had entered into a three week consultation with representative bodies on the content of the 2017 Standard Crime Contract on 8 June 2016. A spokesperson for the agency confirmed that the representative bodies are the Law Society, Bar Council, Legal Aid Practitioners Group and Advice Services Alliance.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, a Law Society spokesperson said: “We are expecting the contract to be largely uncontroversial, mainly reflecting changes proposed in the draft 2015 contracts when the Legal Aid Agency drafted “own” and “duty” contracts for the two-tier arrangements.

“The Society has been working with the practitioner groups and the LAA to try to find a mechanism to mitigate the problem of “ghost” duty solicitors by tightening up the rules to ensure that only those currently active in criminal law can act as duty solicitors.”

Also quoted in the ‘Gazette’, Zoe Gascoyne, chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, regretted the fact that the CLSA and the LCCSA were not statutory consultees. LCCSA president Greg Foxsmith said the association has “made the case for duty solicitor slots to remain with individual solicitors, rather than firms,” adding “with over 1,000 members in London desperate to know what the provisions of the proposed new contracts [are], it is bizarre that the LCCSA is not consulted but instead the Bar Council is invited to comment.”

One may ask why this last minute rush to deal with a well flagged matter. Could it be that the all consuming hustings for the referendum has led politicians, of all colours, to take their eyes off the ball of routine government business. Be grateful that we have a diligent, highly professional civil service to see that essential business is maintained.

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

More delay in the legal aid contract dispute

A group of 65 firms, including successful as well as unsuccessful bidders, came together under the title Fair Crime Contracts Alliance Ltd. The Alliance sought an application for urgent consideration and expedition. The High Court was to consider whether to grant permission for judicial review of the government’s tender for new legal aid contracts amid questions about whether the parties have sufficient standing to bring proceedings.

The High Court granted permission for judicial review of the government’s tender for new legal aid contracts. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

It’s not the lawyer who is the fat cat

Matthew Coats, the chief executive of the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), saw his combined salary, bonuses and pension benefits rise from between £195,000 and £200,000 in 2014, to between £220,000 and £225,000 this year.

This pay rise of more than 10% for the head of the body that oversees legal aid has been described as an insult by solicitors whose fees have been slashed on his watch. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

Liverpool lawyers defy bar chiefs

Barristers and solicitors in Merseyside yesterday agreed to forgo work in opposition to legal aid cuts due to be implemented next week

After a meeting involving over 100 barristers and solicitors in Merseyside, representing every chambers in the city and the vast majority of solicitors, individual firms said that they would not undertake any legal aid work under the rates introduced on Wednesday 1 July. The move could bring criminal courts in the north-west to a grinding halt within days. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

Legal aid cuts “threat to democracy”

More than 100 judges, peers, prominent lawyers and doctors working in the civil and criminal justice system have called on the incoming government to restore legal aid to prevent “widespread miscarriages of justice.”

In an open letter to the ‘Guardian’ last Saturday, the signatories – who include former appeal court judges, a chief inspector of prisons and a reviewer of terrorism legislation – condemn cuts made by the coalition government for depriving “hundreds of thousands of people” access to justice. Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, Criminal JusticeComments (0)

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