News that existing criminal legal aid providers are being offered a further 18-month extension to their contracts with the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has been greeted with cynicism by the Law Society.

The LAA this week announced that the existing 2017 Standard Crime Contract will be automatically extended for a year to 31 March 2022.

It also announced an option for existing providers a further six-month extension to 30 September 2022.

While the initial year-long contract extension is automatic, existing providers will be expected to respond promptly to an offer for a further six-month extension.

The LAA indicated it wanted to avoid adding pressure on firms by launching a tender in April as was originally intended.

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