The LAA has published today its intentions for the tendering processes for Civil legal aid contracts from April 2018.
This is a summary of the Legal Aid Agency’s (LAA) headline document can be downloaded from the LAA’s website or by clicking the below link:
Face to face services
Categories of law
Tenders will be open for the following categories:
- The LAA will continue to allow the option of bidding for contracts for licensed work only in the family category
- The LAA intends to reduce the number of procurement areas in London to 3 to align with court changes
- Housing, Debt and Welfare Benefits
- The LAA will not be procuring separately for welfare benefits but bidders may apply for welfare benefits matter starts as part of the housing and debt contracts (subject to meeting additional supervisor requirements)
- The housing and debt and welfare benefits supervisor declaration forms are being merged into one form
- Welfare benefits work will be paid by fixed fee
- Immigration & Asylum (including IRCs)
- The LAA is considering changes to procurement areas in this category
- Those tendering for larger volumes of work will be required to undertake controlled and licensed work
- The LAAS will adopt the changes the Law Society makes to the the IAA scheme
- City of Kingston upon Hull will be introduced as an area where is commissions immigration & Asylum advice
- IRC work will no longer be procured separately – all organisations bidding in the higher lot will be able to bid for IRC work but they will need to employ an IAAS Advanced Accredited Caseworker based at the relevant office to be eligible to apply and will be committing to deliver IRC work at any site across the whole procurement area if necessary.
- Claims against Public Authorities (currently known as ‘Actions Against the Police etc’)
- Public Law
- Clinical Negligence
- Community Care
- The community care supervisor standard is to be updated to reflect new legislation
- The LAA intends to incorporate the Law Society’s proposed specialist panel accreditation for Mental Capacity (Welfare) cases – see below.
- Mental Health
- The tribunal case requirements for the supervisor standard will increase from 5 to 10
- The LAA intend to introduce a secondary route for supervisors that supervise a mixture of tribunal work and mental capacity work – they will need to evidence 5 Tribunal cases and 5 mental capacity cases.
- The LAA will limit the number of hearings where representation can be conducted either by counsel or an agent who do not carry out contract work for the firm for at least 14 hours per week.
- as a basis to restrict authorisation for Court of Protection work to offices with at least one accredited individual.
All organisations will receive an allocation of 5 miscellaneous matters in addition to their category specific matter starts. Organisations will also be able to request miscellaneous matter starts specifically to act on behalf of victims of human trafficking and modern slavery (see the LAA document for more information).
The LAA intends to award work based on ‘lots’ in most categories of law although it will not ask bidders to tender for a number of individual matter start allocations. Instead, each lot will have defined & guaranteed volume of matter starts. Successful organisations that bid in any lot will be able to self-grant up to an additional 50% of their allocated matter starts in each contract year.
The LAA is considering allowing firms to re-allocate up to 50% of matter starts between their offices.
There will be a two stage tender process.
The Selection Questionnaire (SQ) (formerly known as the PQQ) stage will likely commence in April 2017.
Those who pass the SQ stage will be invited to participate in the second stage of the tender by submitting one or more responses to a number of ITTs (each focusing on specific categories). The ITTs will open in August 2017.
The LAA will notify bidders of the outcome of their tenders in December 2017 after which will follow a verification period which will run until March 2018. Contracts will commence on 1 April 2018.
As with the face to face tenders, there will be a two stage tender process with the SQ stage opening in April 2017. The ITT process will open later in the year, in October 2017.
The LAA will notify bidders of the outcome of their tenders in January 2018 with contracts commencing on 1 April 2018.
The MoJ is still consulting on most of the aspects of this tender. In particular, it is still considering whether to introduce price competition into the award of HPCDS contracts. If this is introduced, the tender process will involve a process of assessment of financial capacity.
Specialist Telephone advice contracts
The LAA intends to award contracts for specialist telephone advice contracts in the following categories of law:
- Housing & Debt
- Special Educational Needs
The LAA intends largely to replicate the existing model for provision of specialist telephone advice services.
The tender is likely to follow a similar format to previous tenders and include an element of price competition.
The LAA seek to secure a minimum of 2 providers in each category and a maximum of 3 providers.
There will be a two stage tender process with the SQ stage opening in April 2017. The ITT process will open in July 2017. Notifications of preferred bidders will be in September 2017, allowing 12 weeks’ notice in advance of the contracts starting.