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Solicitors toast Gove’s U-turn on legal aid

2nd February 2016

Michael Gove

Last week Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Justice, revealed that he had pulled the plug on the proposed dual contracting system.

The new criminal legal aid and contracting regime that had originally been planned was pulled after the Lord Chancellor said in a ministerial statement that the introduction of the system will ‘not go ahead’.

Those in solicitor and lawyer jobs are reported to be delighted by the development and by the news that a second 8.75 per cent cut in fees, which was introduced in July 2015, will be suspended for a year.

According to a piece in the Law Gazette, Jonathan Smithers, who is the Law Society president, announced that Chancery Lane was delighted with Gove’s announcement.

He added, “It is clear that a competitive approach to the provision of criminal legal aid services is not appropriate. The assurance that there will be no competitive tendering in the future gives practitioners greater certainty.”

Two developments caused U-turn

In his announcement, Gove said that his decision to go back on proposals for new criminal legal aid and a new contracting regime were as a result of two developments.

The first he said was related to the HM Treasury being given a settlement that allowed Gove to be more flexible in the allocation of funds for legal aid, whilst the second development was the fact that it had become clear that going ahead with the changes could cause major problems.

Despite the majority of people working in legal jobs toasting the announcement, some law firms have already spent thousands of pounds in preparation for the new contracts. One law firm spent approximately £30,000 in preparation for the new contracts and now this particular law firm and other law firms across the country are expected to seek compensation for the money they have spent.

Image Credit: Policy Exchange (flickr.com)