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Legal Advice and Assistance

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what changes he plans to make the civil legal aid system as a result of the resolution of the dispute between the Law Society and the Legal Services Commission. (200922)

I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement I made on 2 April 2008, Official Report, column WS104. Following constructive discussions between the parties, a settlement has been reached between the Ministry of Justice, the Law Society and the Legal Services Commission in the legal dispute over contracts. This will provide stability and certainty for civil legal aid providers, and heralds a strong commitment from all parties to a new collaborative working approach in the future to address concerns highlighted by representative bodies.

Details of the agreement include a revised arrangement covering historic unrecouped payments on account, increases in some fees paid to civil providers, and new joint collaborative working practices adopted between the parties to ensure that future concerns can be resolved in this way rather than through litigation.