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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

01 JUL 2009

LSC announces response to Civil Bid Rounds 2010 consultation

The Legal Services Commission has published its response to the consultation on Civil Bid Rounds for the 2010 contracts.

In setting out how the LSC intends to commission face-to-face civil legal aid services from 2010, the LSC will invite tenders for new civil contracts specifying the types of service they want to buy and from where the services are delivered.

The tender for the new contract will take place over six weeks from early September to mid-October this year. The new three-year contracts are due to be introduced in April 2010, as the present Unified Contract expires.

Research carried out by the LSC reveals that legal aid clients often have problems which are linked, and so their aim is to secure more accessible integrated services for clients. For example, someone who has a debt problem may find it has a knock-on effect, leading to them experiencing housing and family problems too.

Carolyn Regan, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission, said: "We have made significant improvements in improving access to services over the past four years. We want to build on this progress to ensure that legal aid clients get the full range of services that they require to help them deal with the full range of their problems.

"Securing access to justice for legal aid clients remains our priority. The services we will procure under the new civil legal aid contract represent a significant step towards ensuring that we commission services that people need, where they most need them."

The consultation took place between October 2008 and January 2009 and 362 responses were received. In addition the LSC held 57 provider workshops across England Wales to seek feedback on key proposals.

The bid process will be via e-tender, which means that the applications will only be accepted through the LSC online portal. The LSC say that it's a system that has recently been successfully tested in an interim immigration and asylum tender.

Carolyn Regan concluded: "We have to ensure that current legal aid services aren't disrupted through the civil contracts bid round at a time when demand for civil legal services is high while at the same time encourage new entrants into the market.

"Opening up the market isn't just a prerequisite of a fair and transparent procurement exercise but an important component of improving services where competition exists."

For more informiation, including the consultation documents, visit the LSC website.

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