Challenges to the government’s tender process for criminal legal aid have thwarted the government’s revised timetable to start new contracts.

The Ministry of Justice was hoping to begin the new duty provider contracts on 1 April. However, a judicial review, sought by the Fair Crime Contracts Alliance, will open on 7 April and is expected to last seven days.

A hearing into more than 100 individual procurement law challenges, sought in accordance with part 7 of the Civil Procedure Rules, will begin on 3 May and is expected to finish on 16 May.

In a further twist, London firm Edward Fail, Bradshaw & Waterson says it lost out on a new contract as a result of a ‘basic transcription error’ in the marking of one of its bids.

London firm Bindmans, which is representing EFBW, said the Legal Aid Agency has ‘now admitted that it made a basic transcription error in scoring at least one of EFBW’s bids, and that consequently EFBW should have been awarded a contract in Hackney’. Last Wednesday, Bindmans applied for a summary judgment in a claim challenging the contract decision.

A spokesperson for the MoJ said it was defending the legal challenges ‘and it would not be appropriate to discuss individual cases that are subject to ongoing litigation in the courts’.