Interest Lawyers (PIL) has succeeded today on two judicial review cases against the
Legal Services Commission (LSC). The
first case challenged the flawed approach to the new Mental Health Law
tendering process including the tendering of the High Secure Hospitals
contract. The second case challenged the
flawed approach to the new Public Law tendering process. PIL Limited has no direct interest in the
case regarding the Mental Health tender or the High Secure Hospitals contract
but does have an interest in the Public Law contract.
was particularly concerned that in both tendering processes there were no
quality criteria built into the system.
Nor did the LSC make any attempt before confirming the contracts were in
place for particular suppliers (especially new ones) to verify whether any of
the new suppliers entering the two areas of law were actually capable of
delivering any sort of quality service.
Thus, for example, whether a new supplier has an experienced supervisor
employed and in place to supervise fee-earners doing new work is of critical
Judge, Mr Justice Cranston, agreed that the LSC’s approach to verification is
flawed and offends against the principle of equal treatment, contrary to
European Union Law, as implemented through the Public Contracts Regulations
2006. Mr Justice Cranston said that because the verification process
has fallen short, there may be a number of organisations which did not or do
not meet the supervision criteria. That
could have a consequent impact on quality of publicly funded services. The LSC
must ensure, within a limited time that all firms holding a contract
comply with the supervision standards Those
found not to comply must have their contract removed.
Judge has also agreed that the outcome of the tendering for publicly funded
legal services in high security hospitals has engaged the duty under Section
49A of the Disability Discrimination Act and the LSC must now have due regard
as to whether they need to take steps to ameliorate that result of the
the other aspect of the public law tender the Judge has found that although
specialist public law firms now have reduced new matter starts this does not
necessarily preclude them from undertaking that type of work under publicly
funded certificates and that accordingly there has been no breach of the LSC
duty under Section 4 of the Access to Justice Act 1999.
has been represented throughout by Saimo Chahal of Bindmans LLP and Paul Bowen
who is a Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers.
Bindmans will be putting out their own press release. Saimo Chahal can
be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shiner the owner of PIL said today: “I am delighted with this result and it
vindicates our decision to take these cases in the public interest. We and other firms were very concerned that
the LSC had established a process that ensured that high standards would not be
met in either area of work. That cannot
be in the interests of the public, the profession or, indeed, the LSC
itself. I am hoping that the LSC will
now weed out any organisation that cannot meet the appropriate standards and
reallocate their new matter starts to organisations that can.”
more information for PIL’s reaction to this result please contact Phil Shiner
on 0121 515 5069 or 07715 485 248