Several legal aid providers are still waiting to receive new civil contracts which are due to begin tomorrow, the Gazette understands. The Law Society has urged the Legal Aid Agency to issue urgent advice to providers about what their position is in relation to existing and new contract work.
Organisations that have accepted one of the new 2018 civil contracts will be able to deliver face-to-face legal services from tomorrow. However, several firms who bid for contracts have not received their contracts to sign.
In its weekly legal aid bulletin, the Law Society says it has asked the agency to issue urgent advice to providers about their position with regard to continuing with existing contract work and commencing new work from tomorrow.
The Society says: 'In the absence of any statement from the LAA we believe the default contractual position is that existing work may be continued as remainder work (see clause 26.11 of the 2013 standard terms amended 25 April 2018), but that there is no contractual basis for starting new work until the new contracts are issued. Providers are advised to keep checking the LAA's CWA [Contracted Work and Administration] portal for further advice.'
The agency today said on its website that the majority of organisations bidding in the main tender process have had their contracts uploaded and must log into the CWA system to accept their contracts if they wish to carry out work from tomorrow.
The agency says contracts have not been uploaded for organisations where they have not passed the verification process or been assigned LAA account numbers for new offices. 'Contracts are being uploaded into CWA once outstanding information has been provided and processed. Providers completing verification late are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis and will be contacted individually through the message boards,' the agency adds.
Where verification information was provided with the tender and was compliant, the agency says it is 'making every effort' to upload contracts for 1 September. Where verification process was not provided or compliant, or if there are outstanding queries about bids made through previous tender processes, or assigning account numbers for new offices, the agency will upload contracts by 1 October.
Update: The Legal Aid Agency, on Friday night, posted a 2018 civil contract tender update, stating it was aware of a number of providers who have been told they have passed the verification process but have been unable to accept the contract ahead of it coming into force today (Saturday).