Organisation of The Legal Services Commission

May 2006

60.2 The Commission

(Amended February 2010)

The Commission is a non-departmental public body that is sponsored by the  Ministry of Justice. The Commission manages the provision of publicly funded legal services in accordance with the budget set by the Treasury

The Lord Chancellor appoints the members of the Commission to include seven to twelve members who have relevant experience and knowledge [note 1].

The Commission is divided into the Community Legal Service (CLS) [note 2] which deals with matters of civil law and provides advice and legal representation for people involved in civil cases, and the Criminal Defence Service (CDS) [note 3] which deals with matters of criminal law, and provides advice and legal representation for people facing criminal charges.

Regional offices administer the CLS and CDS and details of the regional offices can be found on the Commission's website at.

60.3 Jurisdiction

The Commission has responsibility for public legal funding in England and Wales only. There are separate schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

60.4 Access to services

(Amended February 2010)

Legal help and services that are funded by the Commission may only be provided by solicitors or advice agencies that hold a contract with either the CLS or the CDS. Solicitors and advice agencies that hold such a contract display the CLS and/or the CDS logo on their premises, stationery and adverts e.g. in the Yellow pages. Details of approved firms can also be obtained from the Community Legal Advice website or from the Community Legal Advice telephone line 0845 345 4345.

In addition, in criminal matters, duty solicitors are available at police stations and in magistrates courts and can offer free advice in many cases.

60.5 Solicitors contracts

A contract granted by the CLS or CDS authorises an organisation to undertake certain categories of work. The different categories of work are discussed in paragraph 60.9. The organisation must hold a specialist quality mark (see paragraph 60.6) for the category of work to be undertaken.

Each contract has a schedule of the types of categories of work that may be undertaken by the organisation and the schedule provides details of the rules relating to each category of work. The Commission pays a set amount to the solicitor each month, which is calculated on an annual basis to cover the value of all the services provided by the solicitor that are funded under the contract.

New organisations are only awarded contracts where the Commission has identified a need for that provision in a certain geographical area for that specific area of law. Existing organisations with contracts that wish to expand their work to cover other areas of law will need to satisfy the Commission that that there is a substantial need in their area not covered by other existing providers.

60.6 The Specialist Quality Mark

In order to gain approval by the Commission an organisation must meet certain standards and pass a preliminary audit. If they do so they are awarded a Specialist Quality Mark for that category of work. The organisation will continue to be audited to ensure compliance with the Quality Mark on a periodical basis.

60.7 The Funding Code

The Commission publishes a Funding Code [note 4] which sets out the criteria against which decisions whether or not to grant an application for a service funded by the CLS must be made. The merits criteria relevant to each category of funded services are set out in this code.


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