Post by Patrick Torsney on Nov 9, 2006 12:26:03 GMT
This short interview has been provided exclusively for this forum and concerns where we are with the fixed fee agenda and Unified Contract consultation. The questions I put to Adam are highlighted in "bold" and his responses in "italics"
"Where do you think Lord Falconer's speech to the Law Society and the subsequent media coverage stating that there has been a Government climb-down has left us - the LSC have given some response on their website, is there anything else?"
"The media coverage did not reflect what Lord Falconer said in his speech, which can be read on the DCA website. He wrote a letter to clarify his position which appeared in the Law Society Gazette on 26 October and can also be found on the LSC's website. This makes it clear that the only commitment given is to revise the proposals for child care and family private help cases, and to do so 'shortly'. Lord Falconer says that they 'could consider' introducing fixed and graduated fees and full competition at an intermediate date [i,e, 2008] if it is regarded by suppliers to be preferable, but I haven't heard anyone saying that they want to move to full competition before 2009."
"We have not heard anything to suggest that fixed fees for social welfare law [what the LSC calls 'TFF replacement'] are likely to be deferred."
"Given all the media brouhaha and the vigorous ongoing lobbying e.g. the 'What Price Justice campaign', should everyone stop worrying about fixed fees now?"
"Not at all. As far as we are aware, there is every likelihood that fixed fees will be introduced next year, along the lines proposed by the DCA/LSC."
"At a Legal Aid Forum at the Law Society on 7 November, Lord Falconer did "give a signal" that they recognise the need to look again at the proposals in relation to mental health, but that is the only concession that we have heard."
"ASA has continued to provide leadership to the sector throughout the recent consultation exercises - is ASA going to respond to the Unified Contract consultation and, if so, are there any particular messages you want to flag up now?"
"ASA will of course respond to the unified contract consultation exercise. "Exercise" is in fact a good word for it. We have already written to the LSC to say that we consider the consultation process to be unreasonable. The documentation is incomplete and the time allowed is too short. What the contract means depends crucially on the payment system on which it is based and the category specific guidance - neither of which have yet been announced. We are therefore responding in the dark to a significant extent."
"We have also written to the LSC to express our opposition to the proposal that NfP management committee members / directors / trustees should be required to give personal indemnities."
Thank you to Adam Griffith for these comments. Adam is the Legal Services Policy Officer at ASA and a key member of ASA's negotiation team
I think that the LSC have acted totally unreasonably regarding this consultation process. To ask people for their views on incomplete documentation is absurd. How they can regard thwe consultation as proper consultation is beyond me. Has anyone considered JR proceedings if this contract is thrust upon us?
Given the consultation is over, the DCA stated that they would report on the response, when will the summary of the response to the consultation be published? and how is this to be taken into account? I agree with Steve Harden, that if the response is published which indicates an overwhelming consensus and the LSC/DCA fail to chnage their course of action, they will be aminable to JR, I wonder whether the ASA would insitgate such proceedings?