Here's hoping Mr Justice Collins is lined up for the case!
Given the developments in the CLP JR, I am sure the same attack re selection criteria could be launched in a Family context. The LSC's decision to place huge importance on the very narrow issue of domestic abuse panel membership appears unreasonable. The LSC has never proven the case that particular panel membership equals higher quality services. The LSC is guilty of playing contracting Top Trumps.
Another example is that firms in Procurement Area B areas, were allowed to tender for public law children only contracts yet they had to complete the selection criteria for private law contracts. That of course killed their bids stone dead so they had no chance whatsoever of gaining a contract. Irrational, as Mr Justice Collins would say....
Post by Colin Henderson on Aug 27, 2010 15:46:39 GMT
Better late than never. The Law Soc have finally come back from their holidays and realised that yes this is rather urgent. They've found their cheque book, got their application printed, wandered round the corner and got issued today:
At a judicial review directions hearing this morning, the High Court granted our application for an expedited hearing of our challenge to the Legal Services Commission's conduct of the tendering process for family legal aid contracts. The hearing will be heard on Tuesday 21 September with judgment expected to be delivered on Friday 24 September.
The court also ordered that the new contracts should not be issued pending the hearing of the case, though the LSC's work on appeals and verification will continue. The LSC has agreed that existing civil legal aid contracts will be extended by one month.
We are to meet with the LSC on Monday 6 September to sort out the practical details around this short contract extension, following which we plan to issue more information to the profession and make details of our case available to affected firms."
So what happens now??
Current contracts extended for one month. But where does that leave new entrants or those who were successful in bids for much larger contracts??
Under the current contract my firm has significantly less NMS than my local "competitors" (ugly word in relation to legal aid and access to justice, but it has been forced upon us by MoJ/LSC), but we were ranked higher on current bid and so under the new contract we will be in a much healthier position vis-a-vis other local providers. We have recruited in anticipation of increased work, but what now??
I assume that LSC will grant more NMS for the extra month pro rata'd according the current contract. So my 'successful' firm will get less and the others more. Is that fair? Do we now have a legal action against the LSC for compensation? What about if the current month's extension is extended?
In order to obtain (& retain) my LSC contract I have to produce and regularly review a business plan looking at the years ahead. I cannot now plan three weeks in advance, let alone three years.
Can my wife sue the LSC when I drop down dead because of the bloody stress???
I have a cunning plan m'lord; why not let firms deal with whatever comes through their door and pay them a fixed fee accordingly? No NMS needed then and fair market share for all. I am joking, of course....