You are here

Society calls in consultants on BVT revisited

28 March 2011

The Law Society has asked consultants Frontier Economics to advise it on options the Ministry of Justice may be considering for the introduction of competitive tendering for criminal legal aid.

The previous government unceremoniously dropped what was then called ‘best value’ tendering (BVT) in December 2009, despite enthusiastic backing from the Legal Services Commission.

In a legal aid update published last week, a spokesman for the Law Society said the coalition government was expected to publish a consultation paper setting out its plans for competitive tendering for criminal legal aid in June.

“Clearly, this makes it unlikely that the first tenders will take place in autumn 2011, as suggested in the green paper, but we have no official information as to what timeframe the government is planning,” the spokesman said.

“Nor do we yet know how the government thinks it can address the fatal flaws that have afflicted previous attempts to bring in competitive tendering.”

The spokesman said Frontier Economics had been asked to advise on the mechanisms the government would be considering and the extent to which they met the requirements of the market.

“By instructing Frontier now, we will be on the front foot when the MoJ publishes its paper, instead of struggling to get expert advice within the limited timeframe of the consultation period,” he said.

The spokesman said Frontier Economics would be publishing a questionnaire on the society’s website to find out the views of criminal legal aid lawyers and talking in detail to a small number of firms.

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said during a panel discussion earlier this month that he thought competitive tendering was “the way forward” for criminal legal aid, but ministers recognised the problems the previous government had experienced and wanted to learn from them. Frontier Economics has advised banks and insurance companies, among others, on a range of competition and regulatory issues.

Categorised in:

Legal Aid