NCDV and Process serving fees charged to the LAA

Domestic Abuse Watch made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Legal Aid Agency

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Legal Aid Agency.

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Legal Aid Agency,

The following is from an email sent to all process servers by Mr Groves from the National Centre for domestic violence (NCDV) :

"The LAA have approached us with a fixed fee solution to process serving costs, we are in the final stages of negotiation. When this becomes live you will no longer have to detail time and mileage on your invoices or even send one invoice per job. The fixed fee level will be similar to what you have previously enjoyed but as I say this is still under negotiation".

Can you please confirm what the current position is regarding this matter and provide any documents concerning this arrangement if this is the case.

Yours faithfully,

Mr J Reid

Domestic Abuse Watch

Sirodcar, John (LAA),

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Reid

Your e mail of 14 November (attached) has been referred to me to reply

LAA are discussing with MOJ policy colleagues whether fixed fees rather
than hourly rates should be applicable for process servers fees In the
meantime we have agreed a commercial rate with NCDV who undertake a large
proportion of this work We do not wish to disclose this commercial rate as
it may prejudice any future discussions re fixed fees

I trust this is helpful

 

 

 

 

 

John Sirodcar | Head of Contract Management Legal Aid Agency

 

[1]Legal Aid Agency

 

Ministry of Justice | 102 Petty France| London | SW1H 9AJ

PA: Gillian Hothersall | 07469 579135|
[2][email address]

 

 

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2. mailto:[email address]

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Sirodcar, John (LAA),

We have serious concerns regarding due diligence with this decision and also the risk to victims of domestic abuse with this approach.

We are aware of allegations of fraud being made previously concerning the NCDV relating to the use of process servers and the falsification of bills submitted to the LAA for payment.

We receive complaints from solicitors concerning the operation of the NCDV and there have been recent developments where process servers have not been paid.

We are concerned that seems to be an attempt to a avoid having to investigate the NCDV for what appears to be previous fraud on a large scale.

We would be grateful if you are not aware of the history and concerns surrounding the NCDV that you look at our website.

In the interim we would respectfully ask for an internal review of our request to supply the information requested.

Yours sincerely,

S Russell

Domestic Abuse Watch

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Sirodcar, John (LAA),

We would be grateful if you could also provide details of the department we can make a formal complaint to regarding this matter.

To clarify, this is separate from the internal review, it relates to the failure to investigate previous allegations of fraud against the LAA and now apparently conducting business matters with the same organisation.

We have had to complain and have the NCDV remove false information from their news letters stating that they are supported by the College of Policing and also their connected process serving company i-doc serve referring to a database as a National police database, that company has subsequently gone into liquidation as has a second process serving company they then utilised called London house international.

The NCDV is not the only business that serves non molestation orders and any such fixed fees should be available to all.

The conduct of the LAA at the very least is unethical and could be construed as acquiescing in fraud concerning the payment of ficticious invoices from the public purse.

We will continue to monitor this case and publish developments in the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Domestic Abuse Watch

Sirodcar, John (LAA),

Thank you for your e mails of 26 November and 28 November
I think there may be some confusion

The fixed fees agreed with NCDV were calculated taking an average of what was paid last year and applying a reduction. Increase in payment were not agreed

Our policy colleagues do intend to consider national implementation of fixed fees for process serving but no timescale is available at this stage

The LAA has no contract with NCDV and I am not aware of any allegations of fraud. Given that the LAA makes no payments to NCDV, I am unclear how a fraud could be committed against the LAA. I am happy to involve our fraud specialists if you can let me know how you believe a fraud is being committed

Process servers are instructed by legal aid providers, not NCDV and those providers choose who to instruct

John Sirodcar | Head of Contract Management Legal Aid Agency

Ministry of Justice | 102 Petty France| London | SW1H 9AJ
PA: Gillian Hothersall | 07469 579135| [email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Sirodcar, John (LAA),

Thank you for your response.

If you look at this website, this will give a good background and how the fraud is being perpetrated.

http://domesticabusematters.wixsite.com/...

For many years the invoices submitted to the LAA have been fraudulent, the time and mileage is inflated and solicitors have also raised this with the LAA.

We would be happy to talk to your fraud department however; in the interim we would be grateful if our request for an internal review concerning the refusal to supply the requested information is progressed.

Yours sincerely,

Domestic Abuse Watch

Sirodcar, John (LAA),

Thanks you for your e mail
I have passed your comments re fraud to our fraud investigators
Regarding your request for a review, your initial request was not logged as a FOI request and I will now do so
Can you confirm that you are seeking as a FOI request

Thank you

John Sirodcar | Head of Contract Management Legal Aid Agency

Ministry of Justice | 102 Petty France| London | SW1H 9AJ
PA: Gillian Hothersall | 07469 579135| [email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Sirodcar, John (LAA),

Yes, we can confirm that we are seeking the information requested under the freedom of Information act.

The following link is for the December 2016 website update which has further information that your fraud department may be interested in, it may be that they are already aware of this.

http://domesticabusematters.wixsite.com/...

Yours sincerely,

Domestic Abuse Watch

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Sirodcar, John (LAA),

I think it is important out that one of the concerns we have which is why there should have been wider consultation is that the fees paid to process servers are unrealistic and the recent what appears to be a reduction in the amount process servers are being paid is likely to put victims at risk.

Non Molestation Orders should be served straight away and the current service level agreement provided by the NCDV refers to a first attempt being made within 24 hours.

Some of these Respondents are violent, police no longer attend to prevent a breach of the peace and process servers work alone often late at night and weekends to catch perpetrators.

When you take into account the number of visits, mileage, preparation of a statement, delivering a statement to the police and having to sit in traffic in London, process servers can e working for less than minimum wage if NCDV are now only paying 60 pounds to process servers.

It is important considering the history of the operation of the NCDV that any information concerning this matter is released in the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Domestic Abuse Watch

Sirodcar, John (LAA),

Thank you for your e mail

There are many different organisations and individuals offering process serving and who to use and, within limits, at what rates, is a decision that local solicitors can make

John Sirodcar | Head of Contract Management Legal Aid Agency

Ministry of Justice | 102 Petty France| London | SW1H 9AJ
PA: Gillian Hothersall | 07469 579135| [email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Sirodcar, John (LAA),

Thank you
I shall log your request as a FOI and we will be in touch

John Sirodcar | Head of Contract Management Legal Aid Agency

Ministry of Justice | 102 Petty France| London | SW1H 9AJ
PA: Gillian Hothersall | 07469 579135| [email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Data Access & Compliance Unit, Legal Aid Agency

Please note, under section 8(1) of FOIA, a request for
information must comply with three requirements. It must:

(a) be in writing,
(b) state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence, and
(c) describes the information requested.

After initial consideration, this request appears to comply with requirements (a) and (c) but it does not comply with requirement (b) because you have not provided your full name.

I am therefore not required to process your request without information that can later be referred to, as per Section 8(1)(b) FOIA. The information we require is your name.
As your request has been deemed invalid, I am not obliged to disclose the requested information at this point and I would like to take this opportunity to recommend that any future FOI submissions adhere to Section 8 of the FOIA.
To enable us to meet your request, please resubmit your application in accordance with the above requirements. We will consider your resubmitted request upon receipt as long as it meets the requirements stated above.
You will then receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to the information not being exempt.
You can find out more about Section 8 by reading the extract from the Act available at the attached link:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Data Access & Compliance Unit,

The original FOI request was submitted on 14 November 2016 and since that time we have also requested an internal review not provide information that has been requested.

You do not appear to have looked at the history of this request as will have seen that two names have been provided although it was not necessary to do as an organisation name will suffice.

I look forward to receiving your response to our request for an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Mr J Reid

Domestic Abuse Watch

Information Governance (LAA),

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Reid

 

Please find attached the reply to your recent FOIA request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance | Corporate Centre Directorate | 102 Petty France,
London, SW1H 9AJ

 

[1]Legal Aid Agency

 

 

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Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Information Governance (LAA),

Thank you for your response.

Could you please provide a name for the person who has made the decision to refuse to provide the information requested following our request for an internal review.

This does seem to be a matter of public interest where an appeal will be made to the ICO, the conduct of the LAA has not been transparent and has also created a risk of victims of domestic abuse not having injunctions served expeditiously by reducing fees of process servers to a level that is not practical.

This indicates a lack of adequate research of the role other than dealing with a private company known as the NCDV who have come to notice previously regarding allegations of fraud and unethical behaviour.

There are a number of relevant organisations who do not appear to have been consulted.

These recent negotiations with the NCDV appear to be an attempt to sweep under the carpet allegations of fraudulently inflated claims to the LAA over a period of several years which should be recorded and investigated as criminal allegations.

The process serving company closely connected with the NCDV appears to have been wound up since we exposed concerns regarding the alleged fraudulent activities and persons employed by the company are now simply working directly for NCDV who have started their own process serving service.

Notices published in the Gazette
9 Aug 2016
I-DOCSERVE LIMITED (Company Number 07036268) Registered office: Mulberry House, 53 Church Street, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8DJ Principal trading address: Marine House, 1st Floor, 18/20 Baker Street, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8AU Section 85(1), Insolvency Act 1986 Resolutions to Wind Up: At a general meeting of the Company, duly convened and held at Mulberry House, 53 Church Street, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8DJ at 10.00 am on 2 August 2016, the following Resolutions were passed as a Special Resolution and as an Ordinary Resolution respectively: “That the Company be wound up voluntarily and that Tony James Thompson of Piper Thompson, Mulberry House, 53 Church Street, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8DJ be and is hereby appointed Liquidator of the Company for the purposes of such winding up”. Date on which Resolutions were passed: Members: 2 August 2016 Creditors: 2 August 2016 D McConnell, Director Liquidator’s Details: T J Thompson, IP no 5280 of Piper Thompson, Mulberry House, 53 Church Street, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8DJ. Telephone (01932) 855515

The NCDV subsequently used another process serving company London House International who have also been concerned regarding the operating practices of NCDV and severed their relationship with a number of process servers not having been paid.

Amongst other concern, there appears to be a lack of due diligence by the LAA and we would like to see steps taken to not only investigate the allegations of fraud but for proper consultations with relevant organisations to establish what is entailed in serving these emergency injunctions.

Yours sincerely,

J Reid

Domestic Abuse Watch

Information Governance (LAA),

 
Thank you for your email, it has been received by the Legal Aid Agency's
Information Governance team and we will process it in due course.
 
Please note that if your email contains a  new FOI or DPA request we will
forward it to the Ministry of Justice's Data Access and Compliance Unit
for processing.
 
In future please send new requests directly to them, their  email address
is [Legal Aid Agency request email]
 

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of the
addressee(s). Its unauthorised use, disclosure, storage or copying is not
permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy all
copies and inform the sender by return e-mail.

Internet e-mail is not a secure medium. Any reply to this message could be
intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear that in mind when
deciding whether to send material in response to this message by e-mail.

This e-mail (whether you are the sender or the recipient) may be
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at any time. You have a responsibility to ensure laws are not broken when
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Information Governance (LAA),

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Reid

 

Thank you for your recent correspondence. I can confirm that our response
under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) as posted to the What do They
know Website on 28th December 2016 was authorised by Mr John Sirodcar the
Head of Contract Mangmanet within the Legal Aid Agency.

 

For the avoidance of doubt I can confirm that we have dealt with this
request within the frame work of the FOIA since 1st December 2016 when you
made it explicit you wished the request to be dealt with under that Act.
Prior to this we corresponded with you outside of the FOIA framework.

 

Our letter of 28th December informed you that you may request an internal
review of the response to your request under the Freedom of Information
Act if you have concerns with our compliance with the statute. You have
not made such a request since that time.

 

Your previous request for an internal review of 30th November was
premature, as at that time we had not yet responded to you under the FOIA.

 

Correspondence not forming a request for information (within the meaning
of section 84 of the FOIA) should be directed to
[1][email address].

 

Kind regards

Information Governance

 

 

Information Governance 
Legal Aid Agency 
102 Petty France, London, 
SW1H 9AJ 
 
T: 0300 200 2020   
[2]E: [email address]  

[3]LAA logo

 

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of the
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Internet e-mail is not a secure medium. Any reply to this message could be
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deciding whether to send material in response to this message by e-mail.

This e-mail (whether you are the sender or the recipient) may be
monitored, recorded and retained by the Ministry of Justice. E-mail
monitoring / blocking software may be used, and e-mail content may be read
at any time. You have a responsibility to ensure laws are not broken when
composing or forwarding e-mails and their contents.

References

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2. mailto:[email%20address]

Domestic Abuse Watch

Dear Information Governance (LAA),

This was a Freedom of Information request from day one, it is dissapointing that the LAA is going to such lengths to avoid answering questions and denying knowledge of allegations of fraud.

Yours sincerely,

Domestic Abuse Watch

Information Governance (LAA),

 
Thank you for your email, it has been received by the Legal Aid Agency's
Information Governance team and we will process it in due course.
 
Please note that if your email contains a  new FOI or DPA request we will
forward it to the Ministry of Justice's Data Access and Compliance Unit
for processing.
 
In future please send new requests directly to them, their  email address
is [Legal Aid Agency request email]
 

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of the
addressee(s). Its unauthorised use, disclosure, storage or copying is not
permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy all
copies and inform the sender by return e-mail.

Internet e-mail is not a secure medium. Any reply to this message could be
intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear that in mind when
deciding whether to send material in response to this message by e-mail.

This e-mail (whether you are the sender or the recipient) may be
monitored, recorded and retained by the Ministry of Justice. E-mail
monitoring / blocking software may be used, and e-mail content may be read
at any time. You have a responsibility to ensure laws are not broken when
composing or forwarding e-mails and their contents.