On 20th January 2017 the government published information on intentions for civil legal aid contracts from April 2018, stating that further information on the future of family mediation services would follow. Many took this as a warning sign for the future of legal aid for family mediation.
On Monday the government published new information detailing intentions for family mediation legal aid contracts from April 2018. This details the delivery of new family mediation services under the new 2018 Standard Civil Contract (“Contract”) to commence from 1 April 2018. The statement includes:
“The government remains committed to family mediation as a key route to helping family disputes avoid court proceedings. We will therefore not make significant changes to how family mediation services are delivered under current contracts.”
Clearly a good sign for existing family mediation services with legal aid contracts, and those wishing to start new contracts.
One of the major changes is the removal of the requirement for the Mediation Quality Mark, instead
“…the Contract will require mediators and mediation organisations meet the standards set out by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and the Family Mediation Standards Board.”
The information proposed a timetable for services applying for the new contracts, commencing with the new SQ stage opening in April 2017.
However, as a result of Brexit, the timetable for the process was modified and in August a revised timetable was published. This included the following sections –
- Selection Questionnaire (SQ)
- Invitation to Tender (ITT)
- Verification process
The revised timetable is shown below:
There is only a week to go before the end of the tendering process, which closes on Friday10th November at 5pm.
Full details of the contract tendering process can be found on the Civil 2018 Contracts Tender page.
Progress Mediation has been helping support mediation services comply with their legal aid contracts for over five years. If your family mediation service is considering applying for a legal contract, we’re here to help. Our mobile software was launched in January 2016 to help keep you in touch with your workload whilst on the move.
The Legal Aid Agency has removed the limits on the number of mediation matters that services can start a contract with. Therefore family mediation services will not be required to bid for a specific volume of work – ensuring smaller services can still bid for contracts. This matches our ethos of growing with you as your service grows. You can pick the functionality from our modules and number of users that suits you.
If you’re still considering whether a Legal Aid Contract is for you, or whether the paperwork is manageable, why not get in touch.