Law Society plans judicial review over family legal aid tender

20 August 2010

Law SocietyThe Law Society has sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Legal Services Commission (LSC), challenging the lawfulness of its decision to proceed with the allocation of family law contracts.

The (LSC) has been criticised for its handling of the recent tender round of family legal aid contracts which cut the number of firms able to do family law work from 2,400 to 1,300.

In a statement the LSC Law Society president Linda Lee said: "In reaching this decision we are conscious of the difficulties for firms that were unsuccessful. We are also acutely aware of the difficulty taking action will cause those successful firms who are planning to expand their businesses either by volume, new work type or a new geographic location, and we thought very carefully about the consequences of taking action.

"As a profession, we accept and are proud of an ethical code that is higher than pure commercial considerations. We have a duty to protect the public interest. A reduction in access to justice cannot be in the public interest, particularly when it affects the most vulnerable people in society, those who are seeking to establish their basic rights," Ms Lee said.

She continued: "The Law Society remains ready and willing to talk with the Legal Services Commission and the Ministry of Justice to avoid litigation and urgently resolve these issues. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, then we will bring the proceedings before the High Court."

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