In June the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced its decision to proceed with a second criminal legal fee cut of 8.75 per cent. They also announced that the number of contracts for solicitors providing 24-hour cover at police stations in local communities would be reduced to 527 from 1,600.
The Law Society's priority is to do all that it can to provide support to its members and their firms during this most difficult time.
The Law Society is strongly opposed to a suggestion that instructing an in-house advocate represents a conflict of interest.
The Law Society has emphasised the need for the Legal Aid Agency to address the concerns about the contract procurement process.
The Law Society has prepared potential remedies for criminal firms should they be unsuccessful in relation to all or part of their duty provider tender.
Statement by Law Society president Andrew Caplen.
MoJ has questions to answer about criminal legal aid regulations following House of Lords Committee report.
The Law Society has reacted with dismay to the government's announcement that it will press ahead with further cuts to legal aid.
The Law Society has drafted some additional guidance on the crime duty tender in response to a number of questions that have been raised by our members.
The duty contracts tender will resume on Friday 27 March. Read our latest advice and download a template for delivery partnership agreements.
In a deeply disappointing judgment, the Court of Appeal rejected legal challenges brought by the Law Society, the CLSA and the LCCSA.
An injunction to the tender process for duty contracts has been extended until the court delivers its judgment.
The Court of Appeal has handed down a crucial judgment permitting the Law Society to challenge an earlier ruling over government reforms of criminal legal aid.
An injunction to the tender process will continue until 16:00 on 27 February pending an application to the Court of Appeal.
In a deeply disappointing judgment, the High Court has rejected legal challenges brought by the Law Society and the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association.
The Law Society will appeal the decision.
The Law Society has sought a judicial review of the attorney general's decision to launch a criminal legal aid duty contracts tender. This is taking place on 15, 16 and 19 January.
Read our advice to members, prepared in consultation with our legal team.
The tender process will be suspended until the result of the judicial reviews in January 2015.
Read the details of our judicial review of the legal aid crime duty contract tender process.
Richard Miller, head of legal aid at the Law Society, explains the details of the duty contracts, what they may mean to you and what the Law Society is saying and doing about it.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said: 'In the interests of access to justice, the public and the legal profession, we have decided to seek a judicial review of the legal aid crime duty tender process. In our opinion, the process creates a serious risk of market failure which could have major implications for society as well as the profession'.
The Law Society provides commentary on the duty crime tender documentation.
President Andrew Caplen said:
'The Law Society has throughout this year raised very serious concerns about the proposed tender process.'
The Ministry of Justice has announced its intention to continue with plans to tender for criminal legal aid work. The tender for the duty crime contracts is now open.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said:
'We are extremely disappointed with this announcement. In our view the scheme fails to meet the ministry's own objectives of ensuring that criminal legal aid must be sustainable with enough solicitors doing criminal duty work.'
The Law Society has expressed grave concerns over the government's proposals for crime duty contracts.
The Law Society has put together a support pack to help members respond to the Ministry of Justice consultation on the Otterburn and KPMG reports. The consultation closes on 15 October.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen has called on the Justice Select Committee to hold a review of the Ministry of Justice's proposals for crime duty contracts.
Following the judicial review decision last week, the Ministry of Justice has published a consultation on the Otterburn and KPMG reports.
The High Court has quashed the Lord Chancellor's decision on the number of criminal legal aid duty solicitor contracts to be allocated under the government's proposals.
The LAA has published two documents intended to assist firms that are interested in applying for a duty provider contract. Read our comments.
The Legal Aid Agency has published a draft of the 2015 duty provider contract and deferred the contract tender until October. Read our comments.
The Law Society has called on the government to postpone the tender for criminal legal aid work.
In an open letter to members, Law Society president Andrew Caplen explains that the Legal Aid Agency is yet to address many concerns about the tender process. He also calls on the LAA to re-assess the proposed fee cuts.
The Law Society has pledged further support for criminal legal aid solicitors, following a request from practitioner bodies for financial backing for a judicial review of the government's consultation on legal aid reforms.
The Law Society has written to the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association and the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association proposing a strategy of mediation, with the costs of mediation to be met by the Society.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the Society will provide financial support to enable the practitioner groups to proceed with the litigation, if permission is granted.
The Legal Aid Agency has issued a letter to solicitor firms with VHCC legal aid contracts who are having difficulty in securing the services of an advocate. Find out more and read our guidance.
The Legal Aid Agency has published the tender documents for firms wishing to apply for one of the own client contracts. We have summarised the key changes to the contract.
Our new video provides advice to help solicitors adapt to the Legal Aid Agency's requirements for the delivery of criminal legal aid. It also has information to help firms consider options for suitable business models and the steps needed to pursue them.
We have issued guidance to help criminal legal aid solicitors cope with the cuts and dramatic market changes announced by the Ministry of Justice in February. The guidance identifies the types of business models that are most likely to be sustainable over the long-term, such as mergers, joint ventures and consortia.
Read our FAQs on the MoJ's decision.
Head of legal aid Richard Miller gives an overview of the MoJ's plans, the details of the announcement, what has changed since the last consultation, the MoJ's timetable and what the Law Society will do next.
Criminal legal aid solicitors face the brunt of waste and inefficiency in the justice system, from inadequately trained interpreters to poor court planning. We have collated research, reports and information to highlight the waste in the system.
The Law Society press office has put together a toolkit for solicitors wanting to bolster the campaign
New research into legal aid expenditure forecasts shows that the MoJ could stand to make two-thirds of its £120m savings being demanded from the work carried out by solicitors and barristers in the criminal legal aid system without implementing the proposed cuts.
The Law Society Council has reaffirmed its vow to continue opposing cuts that will risk the livelihoods of criminal solicitors and jeopardise the quality of criminal defence in England and Wales.
The Law Society Council has reaffirmed its commitment to direct engagement with the MoJ on proposed changes to legal aid in order to secure the best possible deal for all of its members and to ensure continued access to justice.
Read our response to the government consultation in October 2013.
In a letter to The Times, nine leading legal academics set out their concerns that the government's plan to cut criminal legal aid and introduce a system of tendering based on price could have devastating and irreversible consequences.
The Ministry of Justice published its final model for the future of criminal legal aid on 27 February 2014. The decision was part of the response to the Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps consultation
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The Access to Justice Committee is part of our Legal Affairs and Policy Board.
It promotes improvements in legal aid and access to justice and advises on policy formulation and negotiations with the Legal Aid Agency, the Ministry of Justice and the wider government.
It also provides support to practitioners who provide or wish to provide publicly funded work.
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