MoJ reveals £141k costs over legal aid contracts

Topics: Legal aid and access to justice,Government & politics

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  • Shailesh Vara

The government has provided some insight into the costs of procuring its new criminal legal aid contracts following the decision to abandon a new contracting regime.

Last week justice secretary Michael Gove announced that he had decided ‘not to go ahead with the introduction of the dual contracting system’.

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He will also suspend, for a period of 12 months from 1 April, a second 8.75% fee cut introduced in July last year.

Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter asked Gove how much the Ministry of Justice had paid in legal fees in relation to the new contracts.

Responding yesterday, justice minister Shailesh Vara (pictured) said, to the end of December 2015, the Legal Aid Agency incurred a total of £141,519 in relation to external legal fees associated with the contracts.

Vara said the external legal advice ‘assisted the [Government Legal Department] commercial team with the drafting of the 2015 own-client and 2015 duty provider contracts’.

Vara said it was ‘not possible to distinguish the cost of work relating to the criminal legal aid contracts incurred by the agency’s internal legal teams from other work undertaken’.

On Monday Lord Falconer asked the National Audit Office to investigate how much the government’s abortive attempt to impose criminal legal aid reforms had cost the taxpayer.

Falconer said: ‘This is a significant change in policy and one that has taken place very late in the day. Not only will many criminal law firms have already taken decisions either to expand or to cut staff based on their success in the bidding process, but much time and expenditure is likely to have already been spent by the MoJ and LAA.’

Falconer’s letter comes after the Gazette reported that the ministry faced compensation claims from some firms who had spent tens of thousands of pounds preparing for the new contracts.

Readers' comments (9)

  • What a big fat lie.

    How much do Treasury Counsel cost?

    What about the in house work wasted?

    And the critical question - hourly rate please for every lawyer involved

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  • Yeah right, and the flaming rest mate!

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  • Now lets see , how much do senior managers earn at the LAA,
    Being kind lets say £70 k ? Has this whole debacle occupied their time pre and post ( welcome ) U-turn more than a year , never mind the Brooke St crew , and others referred to in earlier comments. Can someone somewhere give us the real figure please.

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  • Yes, we all agree this was a monumental waste of money driven by dogmatic incompetents but let's applaud Michael Gove who grasped the nettle and sorted this out. He is a man we can do business with as long as we gather the evidence and put a logical case together.

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  • There is no indication in the piece of how much time was spent by civil servants on the project. The £141,000 odd is explicitly only "in relation to external legal fees."

    I do not know what the external fees may have been for - a policy proposal of this type is however something I would expect to have been worked up by civil servants, not external advisors. What the public may have lost is the opportunity cost of the civil servants being able to work on other things. But I wouldn't want any Government to be deterred from considering and seeking to implement any new scheme on he basis of the internal opportunity cost. Think of it more like a research budget, and from which good has come: 'looked at in detail, it doesn't work.'

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  • This is just the usual Ministry of Truth PR hogwash.

    The true figure will be well into 7 figures and, possibly 8.

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  • And this from the govt who keep repeating the view that we have the most generous legal aid system in Europe. im sure the figures are entirely accurate . Look at there source

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  • Remember! By their deeds you shall know them

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  • Having been in the profession now for more than 60 years I well remember the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949. Very few changes to it have improved it apart from the widening of it to include Family Proceedings, the aboliion of the 10% legal aid reduction and the introduction of the Green Form.
    When it was run by the Law Society with Area and Local Committees it was efficient and everything since the creation of the Legal Aid Board has been downhill.

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