Thursday, 22 October 2009

Contract rounds get green light

As expected the announcement of the civil family fee scheme yesterday (see below) has triggered the announcement of the delayed timetable for the civil bid rounds. The immigration bid round is intended to start at the end of November and the bid round for other civil work is planned for the week beginning 8 February 2010. The new civil contract will commence on 1 October 2010.

The Legal Services Commission has also made an announcement on the criminal contracts. The tender for the best value tendering police station and magistrates' courts pilots in Avon and Somerset and Greater Manchester is now scheduled to start in the week beginning 4 January 2010 and the auction stage will go ahead in March 2010. The new criminal contract will commence in July 2010.

LAG believes it is good that legal aid providers have got some certainty now about the bid rounds, but if the Bar takes action to delay the implementation of the family fees this could lead to a further postponement of the civil contracts. With a general election certain next spring the temptation might be to try and seek a delay, hoping that it can renegotiate with a new government. Criminal legal aid firms also need to know the results of the consultation on fee cuts, which is due to end on 12 November, before they can make any decisions on bidding for police station work (see 'Criminal delay' blog below).

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