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An embarrassing episode

The Legal Aid Agency has finally agreed to reconsider the so-called ‘embarrassment clause’ in the 2017 criminal work contract, but will it take on board stakeholders’ concerns, asks Gemma Blythe

8 November 2016

The embarrassment clause in the 2017 criminal legal aid contract includes sanctions for a legal aid provider who embarrasses the Legal Aid Agency or brings it into disrepute. Thankfully, the LAA has now agreed to look at it again.

The embarrassment clause also became known as the ‘gagging’ clause, because many believed it would have stifled legitimate criticism of the LAA or Ministry of Justice, restricting freedom of speech. The concern was that the providers would feel unable to criticise or challenge the agency without fear of sanctions.

Clause 2.2 states: ‘You shall ensure that neither you nor any of your affiliates embarrassesus or otherwise brings us into disrepute by engaging in any act or omission which is reasonably likely to diminish the trust that the public places in us, regardless of whether or not such act or omission is related to your obliga...

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