YLAL is pleased and relieved that the Ministry of Justice has accepted the grave concerns of criminal practitioners and abandoned the Best Value Tendering pilots planned for January. Hundreds of hours put in to fighting BVT by practitioners and campaigners have produced the outcome that has long been sought.
It is paramount that the open and constructive dialogue with practitioners that led to this decision continues as the MoJ moves forward in determining the way forward for criminal legal aid.
YLAL recognises that it is still the intention of the MoJ to design a contracting system that will deliver efficiency gains. This must not involve cost-cutting measures that distil to BVT â€˜by the back doorâ€™
Any tendering process must as a minimum assure the quality that suspects and defendants are accustomed to receiving in the police station and the courts.
On a related note, YLAL hopes that the Treasury has come to accept that criminal legal aid practices cannot absorb the losses from further cuts to the criminal budget. The survival of quality criminal practices is dependent on the MoJ taking a holistic approach when addressing the cost of providing criminal defence services.
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