LAB proposals wide of mark in cutting legal aid 'factory farm'

THE LAW Society has come up with a new plan to clamp down on greedy lawyers who “factory farm” legal aid.

Officials say that the Legal Aid Board's (LAB) proposals to combat abuses of the Green Form system may miss their target.

Instead, the society has come up with its own radical idea to curb mass marketing scams, such as the leafleting of council estates.

Russell Wallman, the society's head of professional policy, says: “We are not saying that leafleting shouldn't be allowed at all. We are saying that it shouldn't be allowed simply to generate income for the practitioner rather than provide a service for the client.

“What we have suggested is that there should be some restrictions on the authority of solicitors to go out factory farming Green Form work,” he says.

“It is only a tiny minority of lawyers who have been doing this but it is still indefensible,” Wallman adds.

The society says that lawyers should get permission in advance, to ensure there is genuine client need, before embarking on mass advertising campaigns.

But LAB officials have been lukewarm in response, because they say it would be hard to see how the restrictions would work in practice.

Society officials are also recommending that the board's proposed limit – one Green Form per client – should be scrapped.

Solicitors will be expected to seek authority for a second Green Form and this will act as a “hassle barrier”, says Wallman.

Steve Orchard, the LAB's chief executive, says the board is considering the society's proposals and will be coming up with new regulations in the next few weeks.