Legal Aid Contracts; Tender results
The Legal Aid Agency have now published the outcome of the recent tender process for Family Legal Aid Contracts. The Results are in the news section of the Legal Aid Agency website. These show that in the East, Mid, North and West Devon area, only 19 offices were awarded contracts. Exmouth is included in the Exeter area. The Offices with Legal Aid contracts in the town are those of Vine Orchards, Everys and Ford Simey. In the rest of, and central area of East Devon the only offices with Legal Aid contracts are here in Honiton. These are myself, (Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors), Everys, Ford Simey and Neil Griffin. Of these Neil’s contract is shown as being for “Licensed Work”. What this means, is that it is not for the initial level of advice, but rather for the going to Court Level only.
This means that there is no Solicitors office with a contract to offer legal aid work from that office in Seaton, Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, or Axminster. This means (by my understanding) anyone who wanted to apply for legal aid in Seaton, Sidmouth, Axminster and Ottery St Mary, would need to travel to a Solicitors office in Honiton or Exmouth or Exeter to make their application.
My office in Honiton does of course have lots of free parking, and is on the bus route from Ottery st Mary to Honiton. I am the only Solicitor based in East Devon, who is accredited as a family law specialist, a child law specialist and who is an accredited mediator.
On the subject of Family Mediation, only 79 new contracts were awarded nationally. The results confirm that we are the only mediation service based in East Devon which has a contract. That there were only a limited number of new contracts is not surprising, given that you needed to have a senior/experienced mediator with correct accreditation’s with the service to gain a contract. There are not as many accredited mediators as you might think, so the bar to get a contract was set quite high, and rightly so.
Legal Aid became available for family mediation, shortly after I trained in 1996. At that stage, there was little mediation work around, and to get a legal aid contract did not require very much. How times change. Anyway, what is important now, is to choose the right mediator. There is a page on this in the site.