Reaction to YLAL Event 22nd February
Legal Service Commission Otterburn Report into the Carter Reforms
Law Society Defending Legal Aid
Recent News from the Legal Aid Practitioners Group http://www.lapg.co.uk/
Unified Contract LAPG has condemned the significant commercial risks placed on practitioners from by the draft unified contract. The Specification prohibits suppliers from undertaking the management of caseloads necessary to operate in a fixed fee environment, by imposing on solicitors a ‘cab-rank rule’, under which they will be required to take on every case that comes through the door if they have current capacity. “The LSC is also reserving the right to cut the Standard or Graduated Fees during the short life of this contract if the average amount of work reported by the profession in any category decreases by more than 10%. So in the unlikely event that firms can achieve savings as the LSC wants to encourage, their reward will be to have the fees cut again.” “On top of all of this, the dreaded Contract Compliance Audits are back with a vengeance, complete with extrapolation of results to all of a firm’s non-standard claims and recoupment of costs previously paid. CCAs did huge damage to firms’ cash flow when the LSC recouped hundreds of thousands of pounds legitimately claimed by firms, after inadequately qualified and poorly trained LSC staff carried out incompetent audits.
For More information on the Unified Contract and the Law Society’s Legal Advice to firms see links below
LAPG Still has grave concerns about the LSC’s Proposals for Family graduated fixed fees. Although the plans are an improvement on the way ahead they still have worries, in particular and child work. They also have serious concerns about the fees in Immigration and how the LSC have actually calculated these fees.
Pressures of responding to so many consultations Richard Miller,also expressed concern about the pace and extent of change. “Today I have downloaded nineteen pdf files from the Legal Services Commission website, including annexes and regulatory impact assessments. This is on top of consultations published earlier this month on police station boundaries and the very high cost criminal case panel, not to mention the negotiations on the new unified contract. I am paid full time to keep on top of the LSC’s initiatives, and I can barely cope with this blizzard of publications. How on earth can any practitioner who is trying to conduct a substantial caseload to a high standard be expected to do so? The sheer volume, speed and extent of the changes is liable to destroy the legal aid system even if the substance doesn’t.”