Legal Aid

LSC give notice re GCC and delay introduction of proposed reforms

PUBLISHED September 7, 2007

It had been the LSC?s intention to issue a notice of amendment to the existing General Criminal Contract, to come into effect during October, in order to implement a number of reforms to the criminal legal aid scheme.

Instead, the LSC intends shortly to:

  • terminate the existing General Criminal Contract with effect from 13 January 2008
  • run a process leading to the award of new contracts which will operate for 6 months from 14 January 2008
  • re-allocate duty solicitor work and issue rotas on that basis for the six months of the new contract.

This means that the following legal aid reforms for criminal work that were to be implemented between 15 October 2007 and 1 January 2008 will now be incorporated into the new criminal contract which will come into effect from 14 January 2008:

  • new Police Station fixed fees and revised boundary areas
  • expansion of the Defence Solicitor Call Centre to ?own client? work
  • expansion of CDS Direct to those elements of ?own client? work suitable for telephone advice
  • introduction of the Very High Cost Case contracting panel (to run for 18 months, as previously announced).

The LSC intend to introduce the Litigators Graduated Fee Scheme at the same time, subject to the outcome of the consultation.

Thereafter, the LSC intends to introduce the Unified Contract for criminal legal aid services from July 2008. It is proposed that this will continue to run until, subject to consultation, it is replaced by contracts let through a process of Best Value Tendering. 

Following consultation on how to allocate slots for police station work on an interim basis, the LSC has decided to continue with the current system based on one slot per duty solicitor.  This will take effect from 1 October 2007 and run through to 13 January 2008. These arrangements are set out in the response to the recent consultation on police station duty solicitor allocations which has been published today. The LSC will issue new rotas from 14 January 2008 for the period of the new criminal contract ? again, on the basis of duty solicitors.