More Thoughts

The LAPG now add their comments on the LSC’s civil proposals:
Re national/regional fixed fees: “The proposed fixed fees are complete
nonsense. The LSC has put forward two options, a national or a regional
fixed fee. A housing practitioner in London may get ?163 or ?206 per case. A
community care lawyer in Wales may get ?292 or ?420. An education lawyer in
the East of England may get ?293 or ?196. There is clearly no underlying
rationale behind the figures being offered – no relation to work done on
these cases, no relation to demand, no relation to the need to encourage
supply, no relation to local or national priorities.”
“One of the worst examples is the regional figure for housing in Kent being
?91. Kent is an advice desert for housing. This proposal entrenches the
existing desert instead of trying to address it.”
“In short, this is completely irrational. Neither option is remotely
workable in the real world.”
“The fundamental problem with the fixed fee scheme is that the LSC is unable
to distinguish between practitioners who do more work on a case because they
are inefficient, and those who do more work on a case because more work is
required. The fixed fee idea is based on the false assumption that legal
cases are widgets and that the only explanation for spending more time on
cases is inefficiency, and will therefore have a detrimental impact on
quality that to date the LSC has refused to recognise. It takes no account
of differences in case type within categories, differences in client base,
or differences in local practice and procedure in the Courts, local
authorities and communities.”
On family:
“We are concerned about the impact of fixed fees generally on quality. We
believe that a fixed fee is not appropriate for level 3, work done after
issuing Court proceedings, as this is where there is the greatest variation
between cases. So far as the other levels are concerned, we believe that a
fixed fee scheme may be workable, provided that the work included within
each level is clearly defined and there are adequate escape provisions. The
fees themselves, of course, also need to be adequate, a point on which we
remain to be convinced.”
Immigration and asylum:
“We are concerned that this appears on the face of it to be another attempt
to introduce the limits that were eventually dropped as unreasonable two
years ago. The figures proposed seem to bear no relationship to the time
needed to deliver even barely competent work according to peer review
standards, yet firms will be expected to deliver at least ‘competence plus’.
Inclusion of interpreters’ fees within the graduated fees is completely
unacceptable, and will probably have a ?racially discriminatory effect.
Practitioners will be mortified at yet another attack on their ability to
deliver a good service to their clients. It is difficult to believe that
these proposals could have been produced in good faith by someone who wants
a quality immigration legal aid service in this country.

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