Legal Aid

Tendering criminal defence services to be delayed until Autumn 2013

PUBLISHED December 1, 2011

MOJ's announcement that its imminent consultation on the tendering of publicly funded criminal defence services will be postponed until Autumn 2013 is to be welcomed.  
The complexities of the market are well known and the timetable was always viewed as unrealistic.  The sigh of relief by many will be tempered, however, with the knowledge that the sword of Damocles otherwise known as BVT hangs over them for the next three years.
The delay will give time for the cuts in legal aid fees to be properly realised.  Then maybe government will accept what the profession already knows: funding is already cut to the bone.  
No doubt the fact that Alternative Business Structures are likely to be in place and well established by then also played a part in MOJ's thinking.  Now is the time for solicitors to compose themselves, regroup and consider how they wish to compete in the future. 
Jim Meyer ,President of the LCCSA said
?It is our hope that this sensible decision is the start of a constructive engagement with the legal profession on the future of legal aid ?.
Overwhelmingly access to Justice is provided by small highly productive businesses located in the hearts of communities. There is an opportunity to rethink policy and rebuild legal services so damaged by the policies of the last decade .A start could be made by a reassessment of the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill currently before Parliament which in its current form will further cut access to much needed legal services for the most disadvantaged people in our society.