Consultation: A Blog Response

I promised some more thoughts on this.
In fairness I can say little about the Funding Review element of the proposals (appeals against merits refusals of funding applications) however I have some (considerable) experience of Cost Committees. In fact I have made proposals to solve the problem in the past.
I do not have time for a lengthy post today (see yesterday for reasons) so lets cut to the chase.
The paper identifies a high success rate at FRC, or an appalling failure rate depending upon your point of view. Our experience of CCA has been discussed elsewhere with something over 80% of initial gradings proving wrong following appeal – either resolved before or after a CC hearing. In an executive summary making five key proposals the first two seem to me to be the most important. These suggest the need for better LSC decision making and then “more robust and consistent internal review”. With this implemented arguably the remaining three might become unnecessary.
I will go further and take you back to this quote from the October link above:
“I wonder if someone directed – “allow no uplifts and leave it to Costs Committees to decide” and LSC caseworkers are just following orders?. I think we should be told.
The CCA experience of recent years was of a cost inspired feeding frenzy, largely to recover the LSC’s position in Immigration created by its own policy failures when responding to dispersal via “expansion contracts” (link to Focus article not possible). The same cash imperative and a wish to discipline the profession, under pressure from the audit commission?, lead to its implementation across all categories. We are currently witnessing this process repeat itself in Mental Health.
I think more general orders, of the type alleged above, went out 2 to 3 years ago and have recently been repeated regarding MHRT work. This is both contrary to the letter and spirit of the first two thoroughly sensible proposals. If I am wrong then lets have those LSC readers of this blog (yes we know you’re out there!) put the record straight.
In brief I would support the move to a combined committee but would strongly resist the loss of a general right of audience and the move to a single adjudicator, though specialist training remains an ongoing necessity. Finally I can find absolutely no objection to better links with the “relationship management process”.
That said we should be under no illusions, these are knee jerk responses created to resolve the effects of knee jerk responses and past LSC policy/practice and my single proposal of placing the Commission at cost risk at CC/FRC would sort this out over night.

About Author: SP

3 comments on “Consultation: A Blog Response

  • I suppose as it was me who initially pointed you to this Simon that I should comment. You have the benefit over others of having read my “reasoned” response to this “consultation”. It is all about two fundamental aims 1) saving money – now where have we heard that before and 2) alowing the commission to gain greater control over an area that potentially they have none over.
    I sit on funding committees at Birmingham and some of the decisions taken by assessors in Nottingham are quite frankly appalling but inspite of insisting that appropriate comments are fed back to the relevant assessors exactly the same thing occurs at the very next meeting. Now those people who know me will appreciate that I am more than prepared to stand up for what I believe is right (even when I am wrong!) but turn the committee into a 1 man band sitting behind closed doors and where is the justice in that. The commission know which members they would rather have hearing appeals versus their decisions and I suspect those are the people whose names appear frequently on the rotas. Now I have sat only once in the last 6 months which I am sure is just coincidence! I agree that up to date training is vital for all parties but can somebody please explain to me why the training for funding review members is currently undertaken by the organisation against whose decisions firms and or individuals are appealing namely the LSC.
    Without of course prejudging the consultation Birmingham will operate 2 member committees from September, now why do we need odd numbers??
    Finally I agree that most matters would be sorted out if costs followed the event and given that most people attend from firms by virtue of their position as partner / head of dept etc I see no reasons why costs shouldn’t be at private rates, I suspect that would concentrate the minds of all concerned.
    If you can find a moment to respond to the consultation then please do it is extremely important. Regards Nigel

  • Nothing to disagree with there!
    As ever indebted.

  • Shouldn’t that read- as far as us poor defence lawyers are concerned “forever in debt!”