LAB set to have say on Green Paper

THE LEGAL AID Board is planning to unveil its eagerly awaited response to Lord Mackay's reform Green Paper next week.

The board's response will form a key stage of the reform process as it will contain details of how the board thinks plans for cash limited block contracts can be delivered.

Last month, chief executive Steve Orchard told The Lawyer that the board had been ready with its response by the August deadline, but had been specifically asked to flesh it out with more detail.

He said the paper would suggest mechanisms for guaranteeing quality under a contract system and a plan for predicting legal aid demand.

But the board's chair Sir Tim Chessells has hinted that it will not deem a cash limited contracting system practicable for criminal legal aid.

The submission will be in contrast to the responses submitted by the Law Society and the Bar Council which have both emphatically rejected the central tenets of the Green Paper.

Legal Action Group director Roger Smith said the response would very important as it was clear the board was “driving policy”.

“If you are concerned about legal aid, this is the response to read in detail.”

Legal Aid Practitioners Group co-chair Bill Montague said he hoped the board had taken on board practitioners' concerns about exclusive block contracts.