The Legal Aid Agency has set new deadlines for crime duty tender contracts following this morning’s Court of Appeal decision to dismiss a challenge by the Law Society and practitioner groups.
An injunction suspending the tender process expires today after the court refused to extend it until Monday while the Law Society seeks to take its case to the Supreme Court.
The tender process for 527 new duty provider contracts will continue on Friday and closes at midday on 5 May.
The LAA announced this lunchtime that work under the new contract will start on 11 January 2016 – more than three months after the contracts were due to begin.
Having already offered 2010 standard crime contracts holders a three-month contract extension from 1 July to 30 September, the LAA said this afternoon it will issue contract extensions to 2010 standard crime contract holders ‘in due course’.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said it would be ‘breathtakingly arrogant’ for ministers to restart the tendering process ‘just a matter of hours before the [election] purdah period kicks in’. He reiterated that if Labour were to be elected, it would abandon the ‘reckless’ two-tier contracting for criminal legal aid.