Strictly speaking of course the last day of spring is the 20th June, that often strikes me as a little unfair to summer – it doesn’t seem right that mid summer’s day falls on what is effectively the first day of summer. No wonder summer seems so short. In my view something should be done about it. However this is a convention that is of course welcomed by all government departments, they do like to commit to doing things ‘in the spring’ it gives them lots of wiggle room, yet sounds quite near when quoted in the autumn.
The response to the MoJ green paper on legal aid reform is due ‘in the spring’ and we are of course also promised a consultation on competitive tendering in crime.
Whilst the consultation response is decidedly due (the legal press is quoting 30th May) the consultation on competition is suspiciously late – this is because MoJ was not only going to consult on competition in 2011 – they were going to introduce it in ‘selected areas’. Rumours are that it may not go ahead – and the Bar may breathe a sigh of relief. If competition doesn’t happen some however will be rightly disappointed. Whilst raising challenges it presents an opportunity for the Bar to break through into direct provision in the crime market. Without it there will be a continuing squeezed on fees and an increasing retention by solicitors of an already declining volume of work coming through the police stations. Competition that could have let the best flourish will be replaced by slow attrition for all.
For those interested in direct access all family contracts have got to be retendered at a point between Nov 2011 and March 2012. Worth thinking about seriously, as it’s a bus that doesn’t come round often – the next chance could be 2015. The clock is running however – its surprising how quickly November will come around once spring is over.