Some of the over £970m earmarked by the government for civil and criminal court reform should be used instead to stem the collapse in spending on legal aid, the Legal Action Group has suggested. It argued that the civil legal aid system was “in free fall” and the underspend in its budget over the last three years should be reinvested in an “innovation and early intervention” fund.
The digital delivery of legal services in England and Wales to people formerly on legal aid could be at the cusp of a “tipping point”, according Britain’s foremost researcher into online law, Professor Roger Smith. He also predicted that high street law firms would be increasingly vulnerable to website-based national brands, as retailers have been to Amazon.
PowerPoint slides prepared by external counsel for training at the Ministry of Justice were subject to legal professional privilege and did not have to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, the First-Tier Tribunal has ruled.
The Lord Chancellor has been awarded almost £1m by the High Court in its battle with a legal aid firm over payments on account. Mr Justice Holgate said the evidence showed “over-claiming to a substantial extent in a substantial number of cases” by Charles Ete & Co.
A High Court judge has said there is a “strongly arguable case” that collapsed firm Blavo & Co, formerly the UK’s leading mental health practice, made “many thousands” of false legal aid claims. The court heard that following its collapse, the firm owed the Legal Aid Agency over £22m.
Criminal barristers who agree to work for law firms “for no fee” could be breaching the referral fee ban, the Bar Council has warned. The Bar Council said law firms were “wrong to suggest no fee is available” where counsel was “unassigned”.
One in ten legal advice agencies warn that they are likely to close next year, a report for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has revealed. More than half had been forced to make major changes as a result of LASPO.
The chief executive of what he terms a “bog standard law firm” has described how it secured private equity investment as a “roll-out specialist”. Colum Smith of McMillan Williams revealed that his firm received eight private equity funding offers.
A former president of Bolton Law Society, described by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal as a “fundamentally decent man”, made 61 improper transfers from client account and used a personal credit card to keep his firm afloat. He is now working as a paralegal for the deputy vice-president of the national Law Society.
Paul Philip, chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), has warned criminal lawyers that they may be the subject of a “thematic review”, as the row between practitioners and their regulator over the legal aid boycott deepened.