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Family contracts extended until 15 December 2010

13 October 2010

The Legal Services Commission has extended the life of family legal aid contracts until 15 December 2010.

The announcement follows a the LSC’s defeat in the High Court at the end of last month in a judicial review brought by the Law Society and supported by a group of almost 100 family law firms.

It is understood that the judgment of Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Beatson in the case will be published by the end of this week.

The LSC has confirmed that all the new non-family civil legal aid contracts, including family mediation contracts, will start on 15 November 2010. Leeds firm Davies Gore Lomax will challenge the social welfare tender at a judicial review at the end of this month.

“The LSC is still waiting for the written judgment of the Law Society’s judicial review,” a spokesman for the LSC said.

“In the meantime, it will meet with representative bodies over the next fortnight to discuss longer-term options for ‘family only’ and ‘family with housing’ contracts.

“The quashing order issued by the High Court means that the LSC cannot proceed with awarding these contracts to providers who were successful in the recent tender.”

The spokesman later confirmed that the extension also applied to child law contracts and child abduction.

LSC chief executive Carolyn Downs added: “Our overwhelming priority is to give providers and, above all, legal aid clients, certainty that access to justice will be maintained.

“We also want to continue to encourage dialogue with representative bodies to minimise any disruption.”

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Legal Aid Wills, Trusts & Probate Conveyancing