HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc209-10W
39. Mr. David Heath

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the contractual arrangements for criminal defence solicitors. [150775]

Mr. Lock

The Criminal Defence Service (CDS) will be implemented on 2 April 2001, when the provisions of the Legal Aid Act 1988, which provide for the current system of criminal legal aid, will be repealed.

Within the CDS, the primary mechanism for providing services to those being investigated for, or charged with, a criminal offence will be through private practice lawyers operating under contract to the Legal Services Commission.

A draft contract for consultation was published at the end of August 2000, and a revised contract, significantly amended following detailed discussions with the Law Society, at the end of December.

The Commission has invited firms to sign contracts, and signed contracts are now being returned to it.

From 2 April, only solicitors' firms with a contract will be able to undertake criminal defence work funded by the Commission.

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