11 Feb 2010

Legal aid lawyers now have to prove competence

6:17 pm on 11 February 2010

The new head of the Legal Services Agency has told MPs that lawyers in the legal aid system will have to prove they are competent.

The agency has appeared before Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee for the first time since Dame Margaret Bazley issued a highly critical report on the legal aid system.

In her report, Dame Margaret said there were corrupt lawyers who were abusing the system and found fault with the Legal Services Agency for failing to deal with complaints.

Within days the Government appointed a new chair - Sir John Hansen - who told MPs on Thursday the agency is working on a proper accreditation system and a competency test for legal aid lawyers.

Sir John also said he wants to ensure the Legal Services Agency deals with complaints about lawyers rather than waiting for the Law Society's disciplinary procedures to take place.