The London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association (LCCSA) is to ballot members on how it should respond to proposed alternatives to the government’s planned shake-up of criminal legal aid.
The vote comes as the Ministry of Justice continues to meet with lawyers’ groups as it finalises the details of its second ‘Transforming legal aid’ consultation, due in September.
LCCSA members will be asked to vote on: whether the association should oppose any proposal seeking to move the market towards consolidation; whether it should try to slow the pace of consolidation, allowing firms to plan and merge at a reasonable pace; whether it should oppose the severance of the link between solicitors and duty slots; and whether London should be treated differently because of the unique features of the market in the capital.
The postal ballot, to be held over the summer, follows an ‘urgent’ meeting at which members debated concerns flowing from the Law Society’s proposed alternatives to price-competitive tendering.
Instead of the immediate reduction in the number of criminal legal aid providers under the government’s plans, the Society’s alternative favours a slower consolidation of the market over the life of new contracts, through tightening contractual conditions.
It also suggests that the volume of cases allocated should be based on the amount of work done by the firm in the previous year, rather than being linked to individual duty solicitors