Legal Aid: Civil news and updates
The Legal Aid Agency has ‘identified the need’ to increase access to legal aid Housing and Debt Services covering ......
- Housing and debt procurement areas: Calderdale, Hull, Doncaster, Dorset, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight, and Sandwell
- Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes: Bradford and Skipton, Scarborough and York, Wakefield, and Walsall
Deadline for submitting tenders is 9am on 21 January 2019.
New from the Legal Aid Agency:
We have made changes to clarify the scope of delegated functions to grant emergency representation for urgent homelessness judicial reviews.
These changes make it clear that these powers are available for any proceedings under:
- part VII Housing Act 1996
- section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948
- section 20 of the Children Act 1989
- section 47(5) National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990
- section 19(3) of the Care Act 2014
- section 36 of the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014
This reverts back to the position that was in place before September 2018.
Draft legal aid / Brexit regs:
The Civil Legal Aid (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 make regulations under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (the “Withdrawal Act”). This instrument makes provision in relation to civil legal aid in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It repeals the domestic legislation implementing the EU Legal Aid Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes (the “EU Legal Aid Directive”). The EU Legal Aid Directive sets requirements for provision of legal aid in cross-border disputes for individuals domiciled or habitually resident in EU Member states.
The instrument also makes further technical amendments to ensure a functioning domestic statute book when the UK exits the EU and makes changes to procedural requirements for legal aid applications.
Lord Chancellor agrees to provide for the backdating of legal aid certificates:
“Matrix Chambers were instructed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors in a claim for judicial review of the Legal Aid Agency’s refusal to backdate legal aid certificates, even where solicitors have made a legal aid application as promptly as possible and it is necessary to begin work to secure access to justice for a client before the Legal Aid Agency has time to grant a certificate.
The Government has agreed to amend the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 to expressly allow for legal aid certificates to be backdated to the date of application for legal aid.”
New regs just published:
Regulation 2 of these Regulations amends the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 (S.I.2012/3098). In particular, it allows for a determination as to whether an individual qualifies for certain civil legal services to have effect from a date prior to the date of the determination in certain circumstances.
Clarification on payment rules for judicial review ...
New guidance is available providing additional information on the circumstances in which legal aid may be used to pay for judicial review permission applications.
The guidance has been developed with the Ministry of Justice following a recent legal challenge.
It aims to clarify how aspects of these judicial review legal aid rules are to be interpreted.
Couple of sets of new regs in Northern Ireland ...
... both relate to allowing for financial eligibility assessments in respect of certain applications for civil legal aid to be carried out by the Director of Legal Aid Casework and employees of and persons authorised by the Director for that purpose in place of a person appointed by the Department for Communities
New Invitation To Tender:
The Legal Aid Agency has identified the need to increase access to legal aid Housing and Debt Services covering specific Housing and Debt Procurement Areas. Accordingly, it is inviting Applicants to submit a Tender to deliver services in:
- East Riding of Yorkshire
- Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight
Deadline for submitting Tenders is 9am on 22 March 2019.
Apparently .... the tender is ‘non-competitive’, is open to both current legal aid contract holders and new entrants, and all organisations assessed as being suitable and as meeting the minimum service requirements will be awarded a contract.
They give* with one hand:
Regulations giving the Director of Legal Aid Casework the discretion to backdate the effect of certain legal aid determinations are now in force.
... while ...
We have closed the ‘out of hours’ service. This service can no longer be used to obtain urgent determinations from caseworkers on emergency representation.
* of course, this concession was only made following the threat of action in R (Duncan Lewis Solicitors Ltd) v Director of Legal Aid Casework and the Lord Chancellor.
New tender opportunity:
A new tender opportunity for Immigration Telephone Advice Services (ITA Services) has opened.
The deadline for submitting tenders is 9am on 3 April 2019.
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is inviting Applicants who hold an existing Legal Aid Contract to submit a Tender for the Immigration Telephone Advice Contract to deliver the ITA Services from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020 with the right for the LAA to extend the contract from 1 September 2020 for a maximum further 9 months.
The LAA is seeking to award a single contract.
Some misc stuff:
- the Legal Aid Agency is looking for qualified legal professionals to join a review panel considering appeals against certain LAA decisions including those relating to claims for costs ...
- the Scottish Govt has announced its new ‘legal aid advisory panel’ to advise on an evidence-based approach for a review of fee levels for legal aid services ...
- also in Scotland, some new regs: The Legal Aid and Advice and Assistance (Scotland) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 ...
Couple of sets of Brexit-related regs:
Civil Legal Aid (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI.No.505/2019)
Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI.No.521/2019)
Latest quarterly legal aid stats .... include that -
- 719 applications for Exceptional Case Funding were received in October to December 2018 (4% up on the same period of 2017);
- 65% of these applications were granted;
- immigration (65%), inquest (13%), and family (11%) remained the most requested categories of law;
- the increase in applications over the last two years is driven by an increase in immigration applications.
The Legal Aid Agency has published ‘Headline intentions for Civil Legal Advice Services from September 2019’ -
In February, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published its Legal Support Action Plan alongside its Post Implementation Review of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishmentof Offenders Act 2012. The Legal Support Action Plan set out the MoJ’s commitment to remove the Civil Legal Advice (CLA) mandatory telephone gateway for civil legal services in theEducation, Discrimination and Debt categories by Spring 2020.
In advance of this and to secure continuity of services the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) intends to procure a mixture of specialist telephone advice and face to face contracts for the provision of civil legal services to encourage new entrants to the market and move towards a removal of the mandatory telephone gateway in a phased approach. We are also taking the opportunity to maintain services in specialist telephone advice in Housing & Debt. The LAA intends to procure contracts for:
•specialist legal advice delivered via the CLA telephone helpline (‘specialist telephone advice’) in the Education, Discrimination and Housing & Debt categories of law; and
•face to face advice in the Education and Discrimination categories of law.
The LAA is seeking to maintain access to legal aid services and offer enhanced client choice, whilst long-term service models for the Education and Discrimination categories are developed.
Tenders open today giving organisations the opportunity to bid for work under two procurement processes:
- specialist legal advice delivered in education, discrimination and housing and debt
- face-to-face advice in education and discrimination
The deadline for submitting tenders is 9am on Wednesday 10 July 2019.
New High Court case re availability of legal aid to challenge decision relating to whether a council’s public spaces protection order unlawfully targeted rough sleepers ...
Liberty, R (On the Application Of) v Director of Legal Aid Casework  EWHC 1532 (Admin) (17 June 2019)
Some misc legal aid updates:
- New legal aid stats (Jan to March 2019)
- New civil contract schedules to be issued by the end of July to take effect from 1 September 2019.
- 2018 Standard Civil Contract (Education and Discrimination) documentation published.
Meanwhile in Scotland:
The public is being asked to give their views on how to ensure current legal aid provision meets the needs of modern Scotland.
Ministers want to ensure the system is user-focused, flexible and valued as a public service.
A consultation, based on recommendations from an independent review of legal aid and running until 19 September, will consider how the use of targeted interventions could remove the barriers some people may face in accessing legal aid …
For those of you who like this kind of thing .. out today:
Draft legislation laid to bring immigration and citizenship matters into the scope of legal aid for separated migrant children
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon MP has pledged that a Labour government would restore ‘all of early legal help’ in its first week in government
Legal Aid Agency extends Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS) contracts to 30 September 2020
Face-to-face civil contracts went live yesterday (in education and discrimination), paving way for removal of the mandatory telephone gateway ...
New tender opportunity:
LAA is inviting organisations to submit tenders to deliver (from 1 November 2019):
- Housing and debt services in Somerset and Shropshire
- Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS) services in Taunton and Yeovil and in Telford
LAA says that the housing and debt tender is ‘non-competitive’ and that ‘all organisations assessed as being suitable and as meeting the minimum service requirements will be awarded a contract’. Contracts will be offered for an initial period up to 30 August 2021.
The HPCDS tender is open to current civil legal aid providers contracted to deliver housing and debt, and organisations applying through the concurrent housing and debt tender which subsequently go on to hold a 2018 Standard Civil Contract in housing and debt. Contracts will be offered up to 30 September 2020.
Deadline for applying is 9am on 7 October 2019.