Careful What You Wish For

The LAA investigation in this case  has drawn a lot of comment. Highly respected legal journalist Fiona Bawden tweeted

Crikey… I had to read this piece twice to get my head around the Legal Aid Agency’s jawdropping stupidity and incompetence…An extraordinary tale…

The overwhelming response is similar – how could fraud of this scale take place on the LAAs watch? It’s an understandable reaction given the pressure on the legal aid fund. It would also be easy to sympathise with calls to step up investigatory work, despite the obvious concerns the case at hand raises.

We have assisted many hundreds of firms, mostly on site with our sleeves rolled up, over 23 years and have only once walked away due to such fears. The risk is low, but that should not lead to complacency. However when required the investigatory response should at least be competent.

We have witnessed such investigations on a number of occasions, I even participated in one at my time at the Legal Aid Board. These have rarely provided that degree of confidence even when “successful”.

Perhaps most importantly thought we were heavily involved in this cautionary and relevant story.

It is an experience which has informed our work ever since.

I never had my chance to provide evidence to the promised “investigation”.

Just like the original investigation, which was “concluded” by a throwaway line in correspondence on an unrelated cost audit, it never reported. We assume never took place.

I recollect being taken to task by the LSC at the time for describing this debacle as “rank amateur”. Plus ça change.

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