Civil and family tender timetable announced
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Administrator
The LAA has announced that the tender process for civil and family legal aid contracts to take effect in April 2018 will actually start this April, 2017. They will announce their intentions for family mediation contracts in due course. The announcement can be found here. The agency has reverted to a two-stage process. Stage 1, a selection questionnaire (previously known as a pre-qualification questionnaire - PQQ), followed by an invitation to tender (ITT) in Ausgust 2017 for the following categories:
Family
Housing, debt and welfare benefits
Immigration/asylum (including IRCs)
Claims against public authorities (currently known as Actions against the police etc)
Community Care
Clinical Negligence
Mental Health
Public Law The LAA stresses that the tender in relation to the above will simply test organisations' ability to meet minimum tender requirements and all organisations which can do so will be awarded contracts. However, organisations seeking higher numbers of matter starts may need advanced panel accreditation. Family practitioners will be able to apply for licensed work only contracts if they wish. Timetable
SQ opens - April 2017
Notification of SQ outcome - June 2017
ITTs open (except HPCDS) - August 2017
Notification of ITT outcome - December 2017
Verifiation process - January - March 2018
Contract starts - 1 April 2018 Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes Those interested in Housing Court Possession Duty Schemes are warned that the government is currently consulting on whether to increase the size of the schemes, so that some could cover a number of courts. They are also considering an element of price competition in relation to HPCDS work. At first sight, it is difficult to see how economies of scale could result by simply grouping courts together as proposed. The consultation opened on Friday 20 January and will close on 17 March 2017. You can download the consultation paper and respond here.
Notification of Housing, Debt and Welfare Benefits contracts will be prior to the HPCDS ITT opening - in October 2017
HPCDS ITT opens - October 2017
HPCDS ITT outcome - January 2018 More flexibility The LAA says that the new contracts are likely to be more flexible in a number of ways which practitioners may find helpful:
Allowing remote working arrangements such as delivery of advice by email, telephone or video conferencing where appropriate
Ability to self grant up to an additional 50% of matter starts over those awarded
Ability to reallocate up to 50% of matter starts between your own offices (subject to LAA consent)
All organisations will receive 5 miscellaneous matter starts in addition to their category matter starts Likely changes you may need to plan for
Stricter definition of 'employ' in relation to supervisors
Changes to the mental health supervisor standard
Limits to representation by counsel/agents in mental health
New mental health capacity (welfare) accreditation will become mandatory for that work when appropriate
The immigration/asylum contract will reflect changes to the IAAS scheme
Immigration/asylum bidders in higher lot sizes will also be able to bid for IRC work Telephone contracts The LAA will also be tendering for specialist telephone work, including an element of price competition in the following areas of law:
Family
Housing and debt
Discrimination
Special educational needs

About the author(s)

Description: Vicky Ling - author
Vicky Ling is a consultant specialising in legal aid practice and a founder member of the Law Consultancy Network.