LAB awards direct contract to 2 Garden Court

2 Garden Court has become the first chambers to win a direct contract from the Legal Aid Board.

The public can now bypass law firms to get legally-aided advice direct from the set.

Colin Cook, senior clerk at the common law set, describes the contract as “a very exciting development”.

Jan Luba, a barrister at the chambers, who was involved in putting together the bid to the LAB, is not surprised the chambers has been selected.

Luba says: “Barristers are already providing the type of service the LAB was advertising for. We were finding that our chambers was doing this work on an ad hoc basis and [applying] seemed to be a serious way of rationalising these services.”

But he does not see competition arising between the two groups of lawyers.

He says: “Most legal advice will continue to be done through solicitors.”

The pilot programme to offer legal advice will commence in January 2000 and last for a year.

The chambers is being designated a “second-tier service provider”, offering advice in the areas of employment, immigration and housing law.

An LAB spokeswoman adds: “It is a question of who is providing the best value for money service and we are not really worried if it is a barrister or a solicitor doing it.”

Jean Gould, a solicitor at Birmingham firm Tyndallwoods which also won a contract, is not ruffled by 2 Garden Court's achievement.

She says: “It is a case of suck it and see although the chambers that have been selected are one that we actually work quite closely with.”