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Family firms drop separate judicial review

4 October 2010

A group of 94 family law firms, which came together to fight against the LSC’s new family legal aid contract, is to drop a separate judicial review following the Law Society’s victory in the High Court last week.

Oliver Hudson, spokesman for the Creighton Group, said: “There is no point in us continuing with a separate challenge. They’ve quashed the tender so our goal has been achieved.”

Hudson said, shortly before last week’s hearing before Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Beatson, the group sent a pre-action protocol letter to the LSC. “We launched a separate action hoping that we would not have to go down that road,” he said.

The Creighton Group’s challenge to the new contract regime was broader than the Law Society’s, which was based on the timing of publication of the criterion relating to panel membership.

Hudson said the group’s judicial review would have questioned the rationality of all the criteria and whether the tender was in line with EU rules.

These arguments were referred to by Lord Justice Moses in his ex tempore judgment, but he said, given the court’s findings on the panel membership requirement, there was no need for the court to decide them.

The High Court gave the LSC 14 days to consider whether to launch an appeal.

Hudson said firms would not know where they stood until the LSC made a decision on the appeal.

In a separate development, Carol Storer, director of the LAPG, warned that firms which had successfully obtained contract offers were considering suing the LSC for compensation.

Hudson said a handful of firms in the Creighton group had actually won contracts, and a £1,000 donation to the fighting fund had been received from another successful firm.

“If firms spent a lot of money and committed themselves to a new lease or recruited staff, I would think they would take action,” he added.

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