Post by Richard Wilkinson on Jun 22, 2012 10:13:38 GMT
With the scope changes now confirmed and just 9 months away we need to all start sharing thoughts/ideas on the practicalities of what happens towards the end. There will already be cases that have been opened with providers that will pass that date.
There are several problematic scenarios. Some of us will be giving up legal aid completely some not., Some may even choose to stop taking cases at some point in preparation. Staff will likely be searching for new roles and may leave the sector completely. I am assuming that cases opened before the the cut off date can be completed- but is that right? Has there been any guidance published etc?
What happens if a client with an open matter relocates after the scope changes. Can another provider open it up again?
What happens if say in Imm, that LH work is concluded and CLR is needed?
What happens if a second nms is needed for a new legal problem post 31.3.13?
Can cases be transferred to to other providers who wish to to the run down work?
Could a provider abandoning LA work completely keep opening matters up to the date they were finishing to claim the FF then seek to transfer?
Several have given up/will be giving up soon. There will be less places to transfer cases even before the scope changes.
Should we be writing something in Instructions confirmation letters- even now?
I have been told that if we take on a matter in an area that is going out of scope, such as welfare benefits for example, then we must finish that matter. Clearly this will have a major financial impact on some organisations as they will need to retain staff to deal with these matters in areas that are no longer funded.
In relation to the immigration question I suspect that the LSC will see the LH and CLR aspect of a case as the same matter. It is only one matter start after all and again, I have been informed that we will have to see the case to a conclusion. This is probably not quite so much of a problem as Asylum remains in scope and you should still have suitably qualified staff to deal with the matter to its conclusion.
I do have some concerns though about when the UKBA withdraw their decision prior to a full hearing and then issue a new one. As things stand we would open a new matter start to deal with their new decision. I'm worried that the UKBA will withdraw a decision and reissue a very similar one in order to prevent the client being able to access free legal advice to challenge it. Or maybe I'm just being paranoid?