Frims to be canvassed on green form boycott

A Law Society survey being carried out this week will give the first concrete evidence on whether the 145 law firms lining up to take part in the Legal Aid Board's green form pilot project are heeding the society's advice to boycott it.

The confidential questionnaire is designed to gauge the level of support from practitioners for the Law Society's stance against the proposed pilot to test the block contracting of green form advice.

It asks firms to reveal the price of the contract they have been offered, if they believe the offer is reasonable and whether they are intending to take part in the pilot.

If, as expected, a significant number of firms are shown to be boycotting the scheme, the survey will give the society a mandate to push for further concessions from the board.

Law Society policy adviser Natalie Breeze said three main barriers remained before it could consider endorsing the project. She said the LAB was:

refusing to set aside a specific amount of money in the contract to pay for Briefcase, the paperwork needed to record and monitor casework;

refusing to pay for the administrative costs of setting up new office procedures to comply with the pilot.

intending to include disbursement in the overall contract price, rather than as a separate expense.

The LAB is hoping to sign contracts for the pilot with participating firms in July, and to begin the project on 1 August.

Some firms have already pulled out of the project. Aryeh Moss, senior executive of Moss & Co, said his firm had withdrawn not only because of the unreasonable requirements of the contracts and inadequate remuneration, but also because it “is time to draw the line.”

An LAB spokesman said the Board retained “an open mind” on whether further changes to the proposals are required.