By Hugh Logue, Newswatch Editor
The Legal Services Commission has announced it will not appeal against the High Court's judicial review decision to quash the outcome of the family tender round for new legal aid contracts.
The Law Society brought the judicial review after the recent tender round of family legal aid contracts cut the number of firms by 46%. The LSC was given permission to appeal after the High Court ruled the LSC breached procurement law by failing to give advance notice of the requirement for panel membership. The court quashed the contracts in four categories of practice: family; housing and family; children only; and child abduction.
However, the LSC have today said that any appeal would only prolong the uncertainty over the future of family legal aid contracts, causing difficulties for clients and providers alike.
The LSC is now working closely with representative bodies and the Ministry of Justice on how to manage family legal aid contracts as well as combined family and housing contracts.
LSC Chair Sir Bill Callaghan said: "Our priority must always be to ensure family legal aid clients get the help and legal advice they need. We still have some work to do but we hope that this constructive engagement with the profession will help to provide certainty for clients and providers."
Earlier this month the LSC announced the extension of the current family contracts until midnight on the 14 December 2010.