The consultation on ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ closed on 4 June 2013. The Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) and many other organisations submitted responses and published briefings identifying their concerns about the planned changes.
The consultation called ‘Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a more credible and efficient system’, was launched by the Ministry of Justice on 9 April 2013. It included:
- proposals for improving public confidence in the legal aid scheme. It includes reforms to prison law to ensure that legal aid is not available for matters that do not justify the use of public funds such as treatment issues; the introduction of a household disposable income threshold above which defendants would no longer receive criminal legal aid; a residence test for civil legal aid claimants; reforms to reduce the use of legal aid to fund weak judicial reviews; and amendments to the civil merits test to prevent the funding of any cases with less than a 50% chance of success.
- proposals for introducing price competition into the criminal legal aid market, initially for the full range of litigation services (except Very High Cost Cases (Crime) VHCCs) and magistrates’ court representation only. It details the main features and elements of the proposed model.
- proposals to reduce the cost of criminal legal aid fees for Crown Court advocacy and VHCCs (both litigation and advocacy), which it is not proposed to include in competition. These include, first a proposal to restructure the current Advocacy Graduated Fees Scheme to encourage earlier resolution and more efficient working through a harmonisation of guilty plea, cracked trial and basic trial fee rates to the cracked trial rate, and a reduction in and tapering of daily trial attendance rates from day 3. Second, there is a proposal to reduce all VHCC rates by 30%. Third, there is a proposal to tighten the rules governing the decision to appoint multiple counsel in a case, changes to litigator contracts to require greater support to counsel from the litigation team, and the introduction of a more robust and consistent system of decision-making.
- proposals to reduce solicitor representation fees in family public law cases by 10%, to align the fees for barristers and other advocates in non-family cases, and to remove the 35% uplift in provider legal aid fees in immigration and asylum appeals.
- a proposal to reduce fees paid to experts in civil, family and criminal cases by 20%.
Click here for details of consultation
Click here for Equality and Diversity Forum response
Click here for the Bar Council’s response
Click here for Discrimination Law Association response
Click here for response from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Click here for submission by Equanomics and partners
Click here for response from JUSTICE
Click here for response from the Law Centres Network
Click here for Migrants’ Rights Network response
Click here for Public Law Project response
Click here for 2 Bedford Row response
Click here for draft response by Chris Johnson of the Community Law Partnership and Marc Willers, barrister
Briefings and comments
Click here for comment from the Children’s Society
Click here for briefing for Deaf & Disabled People’s Organisations by Louise Whitfield, Deighton Pierce Glynn
Click here for briefing by the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA)
Click here for briefing by JUSTICE for MPs and Peers (18 June 2013)
Click here for information on the Law Society website
Click here for briefing by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group: ‘Transforming Legal Aid Consultation: The Impact’
Click here for media release by the Legal Services Consumer Panel
Click here for information on the Public Law Project website (including details of a legal opinion from leading public lawyers stating that the residence test the consultation proposes is unlawful)
Click here for Guardian article on the impact of the cuts (2 July 2013)
Click here for information about the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the implications for access to justice of certain of the Government’s proposals to reform legal aid