To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many firms of solicitors in England and Wales held franchises from the Community Legal Service Commission in 1997; and how many held franchises on the most recent date for which figures are available.
It is not possible to provide an answer to the exact question asked.On 12 May 1997, 1,820 solicitor offices and other organisations held franchises with the Legal Aid Board (Legal Aid Franchise Quality Assurance Standard (LAFQAS)). Solicitor offices accounted for the majority of these franchised organisations. The Legal Aid Board was replaced by the Legal Services Commission on 1 April 2000.The Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) was introduced in April 2002 and replaced LAFQAS. All franchised organisations automatically received the SQM but were required to fulfil additional requirements within a year. As at 7 March 2003, 6,065 solicitor offices and other organisations held the SQM. Solicitor offices accounted for the majority of these organisations.