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LSC may appeal legal aid ruling

Date:1 OCT 2010

Law Society Following the High Court's decision yesterday to quash the outcome of the Legal Services Commission's tender round for new family legal aid contracts, the chair of the LSC, Sir Bill Callaghan, has said they are considering appealing the decision.

The High Court declared that the LSC's family legal aid tender round was unlawful and severely hindered access to justice for vulnerable children and their parents. However, the LSC has been given permission to appeal.

Sir Bill said: "Our commitment has always been to ensure that vulnerable people across England and Wales have access to justice. Whatever we do will continue to be motivated by this imperative.

"We are currently considering the detail of the judgment and its implications, including whether to appeal. We are conscious of the uncertainty facing providers and will publish further information in due course."

In his judgment Mr Justice Moses declared the LSC breached procurement law by failing to give advance notice of the requirement for panel membership. The judge quashed the contracts in four categories of practice: family; housing and family; children only; and child abduction.

However, the LSC may decide that instead of appealing it is cheaper and quicker to launch a new tender specifically addressing the procurement procedural issues identified by the High Court.

The Law Society brought the judicial review after the recent LSC tender round of family legal aid contracts cut the number of firms by 46% that would have been able to able to do family law work from 14 October.