Posted: 20th January 2017
Author: Emily Bower

Ministry of Justice Review of Legal Aid Reforms

holding hands

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) which came into force in April 2013, made a number of changes to the provision and scope of legal aid including family law cases.

The key change for our clients is that most private law services are now only available to the victims of domestic violence. To be eligible for legal aid, a client must produce ‘trigger evidence’ to prove that that they are a victim of abuse.

Legal aid is also available for children disputes if the client can produce certain ‘trigger evidence’. Sections 33 and 34 of the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 sets out the supporting evidence required in order to be in scope for legal aid.

Justice Minister, Sir Oliver Heald indicated that he ’now considers enough time has passed for the reforms to have bedded in for us to begin the review process’.

The Ministry of Justice plans to submit a post-legislative memorandum on LASPO ‘as a whole’ to the justice select committee by May 2017, if not before. This will set out more detailed plans on the review process, look at how the act has been affected by litigation, and various reviews of legal aid already done by bodies such as the National Audit Office. This will lead to initial discussion on the extent to which changes to legal aid met their objectives.

The Justice Minister hopes that ‘the memorandum and review will provide us with a robust evidence-based picture of the current legal aid landscape and how it’s changed since LASPO.’

The government is already reviewing certain aspects of its legal aid reforms, such as the evidence requirements in certain domestic violence cases.

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