Contract call by London practitioners

LEGAL AID contracts could solve the cash flow and overheads problems under which firms are labouring, says the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association.

In its response to the Lord Chancellor's reform Green Paper the London group also argues contracts could allow the Government to lay down minimum quality standards.

“The association does have concerns about the quality of advice and representation given in many criminal cases especially by non-specialist firms,” the response adds.

The group does, however, warn against the dangers of competitive price tendering which it says will distort the market and could leave some defendants without legal representation.

It says a unit price for services, which is fixed at a regional level, may prove a better solution.

Group secretary Mark Haslam, who helped draft the paper, said: “We are trying to take a view on the basis that the Government is committed to a number of the proposals outlined in the Green Paper.”