From 2014, all mental health legal aid practitioners will need to be a member of the Law Society’s mental health accreditation scheme. This will enable them to provide legally aided advocacy at a mental health tribunal.
Currently, a firm is only required to have a supervisor who is a member of the scheme. It is hoped that the change will improve the standard of advocacy before the tribunal.
Accreditation will cost £600 for the initial application, and £540 for re-accreditation. The Law Society says it does not intend to make a profit through the scheme.
There is no set date for the mandatory membership but it should be in force once the new legal aid contracts start in spring 2014.