LCCSA News, Legal Aid

Interlocutory relief is but one battle in the war against dual contracts

PUBLISHED December 24, 2014

Delighted as we are with yesterday's ruling by Mr Justice Jay in the High Court, interlocutory relief is only a battle in the war against dual contracts. We need to focus now on the JR hearing set down for 15/16th January.
The Lord Chancellor’s witnesses statement served today just in advance of the hearing complained that the timetable set for the JR was too short in view of the Xmas break. My heart bled for them. I wanted to suggest that they ought to have been aware of a potential JR, and therefore ought to properly be prepared by now. In correspondence a fortnight ago, I was met with an unsympathetic response when I asked for an extension of the FAQ deadline to take us beyond Xmas.
The LC argued that the 2nd 8.75 % cut was a necessary measure and therefore urgent consolidation was needed in order to enable firms to operate under that cut. The market, he said was far too disparate and full of firms complaining that they could not survive under the cuts (a pretty accurate paraphrasing there).
They complained that the timetable had already been derailed as a result of the first JR, to which the Judge responded, that it was their fault they lost the JR and should have got it right in the first place.
In ruling, the Judge I am sure stated “The time table is extremely tight - simply no leeway at all, so the granting of interim relief says the defendant’s Counsel is thwarting of LC’s political aspirations” (again please allow for some licence in my note taking).
Many have asked whether they should carry on with the process. The thrust of our argument was that this is costly and time consuming process and indeed the Judge ruled that this balanced against the public interest in proceeding with the applications pending the JR. The Law Society has advised firms to carry on just in case we lose the JR. The associations’ position is this, enjoy the break, but be mindful of the fact that if we lose the JR, the MOJ could try to keep the date as it is (29th January). That in itself would be hard for them to justify and arguably we would be on strong ground asking for the equivalent of four and half weeks to be extended onto the period from judgment. (E.g. if judgment is on 20th January – the tender ought to close 45 days thereafter). We can’t say don’t apply for obvious reasons; it is a judgment that individual firms need to make in light of events today.
Whilst writing this note, the following has come through on the Bravo portal:

The High Court has issued a temporary injunction which suspends the 2015 Duty Provider Crime Contract tender process. From today, potential bidders will be unable to access the tender documentation directly from the Bravo e-tendering platform and while the injunction is in place.

But for now open a bottle of something you enjoy, pour it out and see a half full glass.
I would also remind you to hold off signing the contract extensions until at least 16/01/15.
We would not have got this far without the industry of our legal team, Adam Chapman, Jason Coppell, Chris Night and Rupert Paines; the energy and enthusiasm of the committees of our association especially Paul Harris , Julian Hayes and Sandra Dawson who has never been too far from a computer; along with Bill, Robin and the CLSA . They have worked really hard to achieve this important result and it is very heartening to be able to report from the battle field instead of the negotiating table of the smokeless rooms of Petty France.
If you can support the association there are three things you can do:

  • Donate to the JR fund by clicking here
  • Attend the “going going gone” event on 16th January. Click here to book.
  • Sign up a non-member or two. Without members we can’t function and link to membership

Have a lovely Xmas break. I can’t remember if I have posted this here, but if so it is worth posting again, enjoy.