Readers may remember that I was concerned to the point of cyncism about the revelation that the Community Legal Service Direct phone line managed a referral rate to solicitors of 13%.
I have now heard that the contracts for the pilot Community Legal Aid Centres (CLACs), which are intended to be the frontline ‘civil justice’ providers for particularly deprived and service lacking areas, involve a ratio of legal help assistance to funding certificated litigation of 10:1, which is effectively a referral from help to representation of 10%. Remember that this is a contractual rate.
Hmmm. Now granted that a lot of the problems likely to be presented at a CLAC will be debt or benefit issues which may not need certificated work, but mental health, family or housing issues, I strongly suspect, are 1:1 on ‘ending with legal help’:’heading to certificate’. I doubt that an overall 10% certificate rate will be adequate.
If I’m right then a fairly short way into each year the CLACs will be seeking private firms to refer to, which somewhat defeats the point of setting up CLACs in areas of scanty specialist advice provision. I could, of course, be wrong, but 10% seems very low indeed.