Ministry of Justice has a fight on its hands as judicial review challenge by legal aid firms gets green light

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By Katie King on

Lawyers triumph in preliminary hearing


The High Court has given the green light to a judicial review hearing on the government’s bungled legal aid procurement process.

The newly formed Fair Crime Contracts Alliance was given permission to challenge the process’s legality, provided that they hand over £40,000 security for costs.

The Ministry of Justice has faced intense scrutiny since a Legal Aid Agency insider revealed that temps, with no prior legal knowledge or experience, were responsible for allocating key government contracts to law firms.

Unsuccessful bidders across the country were outraged, prompting a swath of legal action against the Ministry of Justice.

Karen Todner, managing director of London-based criminal outfit Kaim Todner Solicitors, broke the good news on Twitter this afternoon.

However, the claim brought by the London Borough of Newham — the second claimant in the challenge — was denied because it did not have sufficient standing to bring proceedings.

A Legal Aid Agency (LAA) spokesman told Legal Cheek:

The LAA will robustly defend any legal challenges including this judicial review. Our first priority is to ensure criminal legal aid remains available to those who need it.

The full hearing is likely to take place in January, so stay tuned for yet another instalment of lawyers vs civil servants.