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SQM or Lexcel - Time to decide for your Legal Aid Tender

 SQM or Lexcel - Time to decide for your Legal Aid Tender

If you're a solicitor in a Family legal aid firm that intends to tender for the new Civil contract, you may have been undecided whether your firm should select the Legal Service Commission's Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) or the Law Society's Lexcel Quality Standard when completing the tender application.

It is a condition of the PQQ and ITT that a firm must have one or the other, and that they are audited against them by the timetable shown in the tender documentation.

When making this decision, it has not been clear up until now whether an existing supplier holding the SQM could apply for Lexcel as part of their tender decision making. Well now that question has been clarified by the Legal Services Commission in their frequently asked questions (FAQ), as shown below;

"1.1 We hold the SQM, but are seeking Lexcel accreditation.

Page 21 of the "Information for Applicants" includes an option for an existing Provider that intends to obtain Lexcel accreditation (paragraph 8).

However, the PQQ question (under "Quality Standards") does not cover this option.

Option D is the closest, but specifically states that the Provider holds neither sort of


How are we to answer, please?

You should answer this question based on the Relevant Quality Standard which you intend

to hold under the 2012 Standard Civil Contract, even if you currently hold the other standard.

So, if you currently hold the SQM but are intending to rely on Lexcel under the 2012

Standard Civil Contract you should indicate Option D, even if you currently hold the SQM.

If you currently hold Lexcel but intend to rely on the SQM under the 2012 Standard Civil

Contract, you should indicate Option C, even if you currently hold Lexcel."


This seems to pave the way for a firm that currently holds the SQM but wishes to be accredited for Lexcel as part of their tender submission.

Of course, there are some time issues the firm needs to know about if they do choose Lexcel, and they can be viewed at the following link on the Law Society Lexcel website;

(paste this into your web browser to view it)

So in summary it is time for Family Legal Aid practices to decide; what's it going to be for them, Lexcel or the SQM?

CPM21 can help with you with Lexcel or the Specialist Quality Mark.

Contact us today to find out how.