The Law Society has issued a plea for clarity on criminal legal aid contracting amid speculation that the government is on the brink of abandoning the troubled tender process.
President Jonathan Smithers has today written to justice minister Shailesh Vara (pictured) calling for a public statement ‘as a matter of urgency’, stressing that the uncertainty is affecting the ability of solicitors to plan for the future.
A judicial review, sought by the Fair Crime Contracts Alliance, is set to open on 7 April and is expected to last seven days. A hearing into more than 100 individual procurement law challenges will begin on 3 May and is expected to finish on 16 May. However, rumours emerged last weekend on social media that the court action would cease this week.
‘The Legal Aid Agency has confirmed that there is no change in government policy on this issue,’ Smithers writes. ‘It would however be helpful if you could confirm whether the policy on this sensitive matter is being reviewed… as a matter of urgency.’