The Justice Select Committee took evidence on Family Legal Aid earlier this week. Amongst the speakers were representatives from the FLBA, ALC, NAGALRO and NYAS, the Chief Executive of the LSC.
The LSC were subjected to close questioning from the same MPs for about 30 mins regarding the lack of evidence to base for their proposals for advocacy, the concerns regarding data and the late instruction of Ernst & Young (who will be reporting shortly on the market impact of the proposals). Below is an illustrative extract of the proceedings (which can be found in full here):
Q46 Mr Tyrie: Do you think that it would pose fundamental problems if there were a sharp drop in supply?
Hugh Barrett: If there were a significant drop in supply yes, it would case a significant problem.
Q47 Mr Tyrie: In which case why is this research described as not fundamental to the structure of the fee scheme?
Hugh Barrett: It is fundamental to the decision whether we proceed with the fee scheme.
Q48 Chairman: That is a pretty significant point.
Hugh Barrett: Yes.
Q49 Mr Tyrie: I have to say that as I listen to this I can sense all confidence in every aspect of everyone who is dealing with this proposal draining away and I really do wonder whether it might not be a better idea if you delay implementation of all this until you have collected the data properly, understood it a little better and won the confidence of some of the people who are involved in actually having to implement these proposals. Would you be prepared to discuss that with your political masters?
Evidently it is not just me that thinks it astonishing that the LSC's view about the need for further consultation upon receipt of the Ernst & Young report is that they 'do not see that a prolonged debate about one item of evidence will add substantial value' (letter to Chairman of the Bar from LSC Chief Exec).
I am looking forward to saying my piece again on 7 July when there is a further meeting.