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Tendering for criminal contracts pushed back to February 2010

22 December 2009

The LSC has pushed back the start of tendering for the new criminal legal aid contracts by a month, in the wake of the MoJ’s decision to abandon the BVT pilots.

A spokesman for the LSC said the MoJ needed time to finalise rates the for police station work in the pilot areas – Greater Manchester, Avon and Somerset.

He said that, as a result of BVT not going ahead, “there will now be a single application process for all applicants who wish to undertake criminal defence service work.”

Tendering for the new contract will begin at 4pm on Monday 15 February 2010 and close at 4pm on Friday 12 March.

The spokesman added that contracts will run from July 2010, as originally planned.

In a separate development, Hugh Barrett, executive director of commissioning at the LSC, has said that only 27 firms or one per cent of the total have withdrawn from criminal legal aid since August 2008.

Barrett said that this left more than 1,750 firms in England and Wales providing legally aided services.

A report by the National Audit Office published in November this year claimed, incorrectly, that one in five firms pulled out from March 2008 to March 2009 (see Solicitors Journal 153/45 1 December 2009).

“Any confusion is understandable as we have seen changes take place in criminal legal aid contracts,” Barrett said.

“Under the old contract arrangements, contracts were held with each office, rather than one contract per firm. So a firm with three offices would have had three criminal legal aid contracts.”

Categorised in:

Procedures Legal Aid Local government The Bar