The news items and other information on this site do not purport to be comprehensive or to give legal or professional advice. cpm21 does not provide legal advice. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither cpm21, its owners, employees, associates, collaborators, agents or trainers can be held liable for any errors or omissions or inaccuracies contained within each communication, on its website, or in articles, tweets, posts or blogs on social networking sites. Readers should not act upon (or refrain from acting upon) information provided without first taking further specialist or professional advice. cpm21.

Crime Tender 2014 - Final Proposals

 

Crime Tender 2014 - The MOJ's final proposals have been published today!

The MOJ have today published their final proposals for "Transforming Legal Aid" in England and Wales.

Little has changed in my view in relation to the proposed tender criteria and process. (Except with regard to "service delivery partnerships" - see below)

We now however have time scales and more detail.

As we anticipated in a previous article the first phase of the fee reduction will bite in the first quarter of 2014, namely an 8.75% reduction from 20th March 2014.

The first phase of the tendering process (Own Client Contract "OC") will commence in April 2014.

Only those who obtain an Own Client contact will be eligible to seek a Duty Provider (DP) Contract in the competitive tender to commence in July 2014.

The firms that bid for a DPC must have an "office" in the procurement area for which they are tendering.

The requirements of the PQQ remain unchanged:

  • LEXCEL or SQM or other QMS approved by LAA
  • Regulated by one of the "legal sector" regulators by the contract start date
  • Min of CAT 3 Peer Review throughout contract
  • Have and use CJS secure email

 

Number of DP contracts available and Procurement Area changes

There are changes to the number of DP contracts available in some procurement areas. Others remain the same. I have set out some examples of the changes in the table below. One wonders whether the increase in numbers of contracts make the "equal share" proposals untenable in low volume areas of DP work. For example the initial proposal was for 4 contracts across the whole of the Dyfed Powys procurement area. Now there are to be 8 across that same geographical area; 4 contracts in Dyfed Powys 1 and 4 in Dyfed Powys 2.

There has been some realignment of the geographical areas covered by the procurement areas to reduce max travel times to 1.5 hours.

So, Dyfed Powys 1 now includes Carmarthen rather than Pembrokeshire   + Amman Valley and Llanelli. This seems to make more geographical travel sense and brings the larger volumes of Carmarthen into this pot.

Dyfed Powys 2 now inherits Pembrokeshire + Ceredigion, Brecon and Mid Wales.

South Wales has been re-classified as "rural" rather than "urban"

 

Proposed Procurement Areas (Wales)

Original Proposals for Number of Contracts

Final Proposed Number of contracts

Dyfed Powys

4

4 (DP1) + 4 (DP2)

Gwent

4

5

North  Wales

4

4 (NW1) + 4 (NW2)

South Wales

9

9

Proposed Procurement Areas (England)

 

 

Avon Somerset & Gloucestershire (now combined)

12

5 (A&S 1) 5 (A&S 2)

4 (Glos)

Devon & Cornwall

10

8 (D&C1) 4 (D&C2)

Kent

5

7

 

The PDS will take 1 equal share of the above allocations in South Wales and Gloucestershire leaving 8 contracts for private practice firms in the former and 3 in the latter.

Allocation of work

Actual Duty cases will be allocated to the firms "on duty" at the time except in small volume areas where they will continue to be allocated on a panel basis as now. So, as now, a DP contract does not guarantee minimum volumes of cases. It is still variable demand based on market forces such as police activity.

 

Types of Provider (who can tender?)

This is the area where the most significant change seems to have been introduced.

The change seems to favour larger organisations and opens the door perhaps for national brands to partner with local providers.

The only limitation is that the "organisation" that bids must be "regulated" by the close of the ITT in September 2014. So if you are planning joint ventures etc. you need to get your skates on.

Individual organisations, a joint venture or now, an ABS can tender for both an OC and DP contract.

For a DP contract a "partnering agreement" is now an option with a "lead contractor" (who will hold the contract and be responsible for delivery under the contract) and up to 3 "delivery partners" ("RURAL" areas) and 2 "delivery partners "(URBAN areas) provided they have a "formal agreement" between them.

This latter change represents perhaps the biggest competitive threat or maybe an opportunity for smaller/local firms. A threat in terms of current plans to go it alone. An opportunity in terms of teaming up with a larger organisation. The final decision will still be based on the scoring of the "delivery plan" with the highest scoring bids (up to the number of contracts required in the procurement area) being offered a DP contract.

 

Use of Agents to deliver contracted services

Under DP and OC contracts up to 25% of the contract value can be delivered through the use of agents.

Contracts will be awarded in February 2015 with the new "criminal legal aid service" (OC & DP) commencing in June 2015.

More details can be found on the MOJ website on the link below. Scroll to the bottom of the MOJ web page to find the final proposals document which can be downloaded as a PDF.

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-legal-aid-next-steps

 

We can help with:

  • Obtaining LEXCEL
  • Updating your SQM manual and procedures
  • Reviewing your files for Peer Review Compliance & Training your Fee Earners
  • Preparing your Delivery Plan
  • Checking whether proposed joint venture firms or delivery partners are tender-compliant

But call us soon as we anticipate high demand for these services in the next few months.