If your firm wants to offer legal aid services, you’ll need to bid for a contract from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). The LAA is responsible for commissioning and administering legal aid services.
There are a range of legal aid contracts for different types of work. The LAA mainly holds tenders for each type of legal aid service every three to four years. It may also hold ad hoc smaller tenders, for example if there is a gap in provision in a particular area. You can only apply when a tender is open.
The arrangements vary for each tender and will be explained in the tender details.
LAA eTendering portal
The LAA offers contracts through its eTendering portal. You’ll need to register to use the portal. Your organisation should have a single registration, but you can set up more than one user.
The LAA posts updates about the process on the eTendering portal message boards. You should monitor these boards regularly.
Before you tender
The LAA will publish information for applicants (IFA) for each tender. Read this carefully to find out what the requirements are and what information and documents you need to provide.
If you’re not clear about anything, you can submit a question using the messaging tool in the eTendering portal. The LAA will publish answers to frequently asked questions on its tenders pages.
Submitting a tender
The LAA will set a closing date for each tender.
When working on and submitting your tender you should:
- allow enough time to gather all the information
- read all the questions carefully and answer them fully
- provide all the information the LAA asks for
- have a colleague check your answers
- submit your tender well before the closing date – if it’s late the LAA will not accept it, and if you wait till the last day technical issues could prevent your tender from being uploaded in time
- make sure the LAA has an up-to-date email address for your firm
- check your inbox regularly in case you need to reply to an email from the LAA
Assessment of tenders
The IFA for each tender will explain the criteria the LAA will use to assess tenders and award contracts.
To be eligible to apply, you may need to hold a relevant quality standard such as the Specialist Quality Mark or Lexcel. Find out more about our accreditations.
The LAA will notify you whether your tender was successful via the eTendering portal.
If your tender is not successful, you can only appeal if you think the LAA made a mistake in its assessment. Details of how to appeal will be included in the IFA.
If you’re successful, you’ll be awarded a contract to deliver legal aid services. The terms of the service that you must provide and how you’ll be paid will be set out in the contract.
Keep up to date with news about legal aid contracts by signing up to our Legal Aid Update email newsletter.