I understand that the JR of the LSC in respect of the social welfare tender has been settled, and the Birmingham firm who brought the action have been awarded a contract. LAG News BLog covers it here. Its a shame only because I was looking forward to the judgment of Collins J – his dress rehearsal was so entertaining. Interestingly, the reason it was capable of settling appears to have been the serendipitous (for the LSC) coincidence of a number of firms local to the Claimant having overbid, enabling the LSC to free up matter starts and reallocate to the Claimant firm. Although in this instance the interests of the firm with no contract and the firms with too many matter starts have been in harmony, what would have happened if they were not? This issue was raised by Nearly Legal here but as yet does not appear to feature in any of the extant or mooted JRs.
More crucially, I’ve been asked to post information about another forthcoming JR of the LSC in respect of the family tender. If yours is a firm which was unsuccessful in the bid for family legal aid you may want to consider whether this is something relevant to you. A letter before action has been sent to the LSC on behalf of 11 proposed claimant firms. You can find the letter here on the Doughty Street website as the excellent Nicholas Bowen QC (I declare my bias – he was my fantastic pupil master of old) is acting for the Claimants.
The thrust of the claim appears to be this: the claimants will seek a quashing order and declaration that the tendering process was unlawful on the bases that the selection criteria were arbitrary, unfair and irrational, that the process of allocating matter starts to applicants was also arbitrary, unfair and irrational, that the tendering process was in breach of the equality regulations and was discriminatory, and finally that the decisions not to award contracts to the Claimant firms may have infringed their property rights under Art 1 Protocol 1 ECHR. Crumbs. It goes on…for 25 pages. 25 pages which I confess that, in the interests of posting this promptly, I have not read.