Best Value Tendering
Cost Cutting Before Justice – Best Value Tendering
22June 2009. 034.09
The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) has expressed real concerns over the government’s proposed changes to Best Value Tendering (BVT) in its response submitted to the Legal Services Commission consultation. The consultation paper was launched in March 2009 and proposes a BVT scheme which would cover all police stations and magistrate’s courts.
ILEX is of the opinion that the proposals are not in the best interests of clients and are merely an attempt by the government to cut costs without any economic justification.
The proposals do not appear to have been subjected to a full or proper impact assessment. ILEX has real concerns that in a potentially oversupplied marketplace, competitive bidding prices are likely to be pushed down to an unsustainable level.
The lack of a ‘floor’ in the bidding process to prevent the system destabilising though unrealistic bidding is also problematical and would ultimately reduce the number of firms willing to tender. ILEX feels that such a ‘floor’ is essential if firms who miscalculate their bids are unable to fulfil contracts and leave with unpredictable consequences for clients and access to justice.
ILEX believes that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach determined by cost alone does not serve the interest of justice, will not work and many legal firms may not have the resources or procedures in place to make realistic bids.
ILEX also believes the pilot scheme is far too short and needs to be extended to at least a minimum of eighteen months before expanding to other areas ILEX believes a national rollout is overly ambitious, especially in the time frame envisaged.
“The proposals are against the interest of justice and could seriously reduce the level of service for clients”, says ILEX President, Mark Bishop. “They could also potentially reduce the number of firms willing to participate. The consequences would be a reduction in the quality of service that is offered to clients at a time when they are particularly vulnerable.
“We have also expressed concern on behalf of our members that nowhere in the proposals are legal executives mentioned, despite the fact that Legal Executive advocates are regularly appearing in magistrates courts We will continue to resist the proposals and oppose their introduction.”