The LAPG Annual Conference took place on 9 November 2023. It was wonderful to be back in person, sharing ideas with friends from across the sector, and topping up the motivational tanks ahead of what promises to be another difficult year for access to justice. Our thanks go out to the 200 or so delegates and speakers who joined us, to UCL for hosting us (and the indefatigable Shiva Riahi) and to our sponsors, for making it such a memorable event.

We had three plenaries and a total of 12 workshops putting a range of policy, campaigning and operational matters under the microscope.


Welcome: Nicola Mackintosh KC (Hon), Director and Founder of Mackintosh Law, Co-chair LAPG Keynote Speech: Raju Bhatt, Founding partner of Bhatt Murphy

LAPG co-chair, Nicola Mackintosh KC (Hon), welcomed everyone to the conference and delivered an important address covering LAPG’s work and strategy, reflecting on the importance of access to justice, the mess the system is in and that urgent action is needed.

The keynote speaker, Raju Bhatt, founding partner of Bhatt Murphy and a “godfather” in his area of actions against the police, delivered a wonderful keynote highlighting that provision of legal aid is shrinking at the time that demand is growing, with little reason to believe it will change in the near future.

Overview of Policy and Civil Legal Aid, including Review of Civil Legal Aid (RoCLA)

Panel: Richard Miller (Head of Justice at The Law Society) & Chris Minnoch (CEO, LAPG)

Richard Miller spoke first about the means test and lessons taken from the Unison case about employment tribunal fees, which led to a report on the cost of living and legal aid means tests – which in turn led to the Means Test Review. The outcome of the Means Test Review is that probably around 3-5 million people who were not previously eligible for legal aid now will be (in 2024).

Chris asked next whether the unprotected Ministerial department would be able to persuade the Treasury to invest in civil legal aid, adding that while the means test reforms are welcome, the legal aid sector does not have capacity to provide a service to up to 5 million more clients. This places further emphasis on the need for additional investment in the sector and in the scope of civil legal.

Karen Buck MP and LAPG’s Head of Parliamentary Affairs Ro Jana also spoke in this plenary, setting out why the APPG on Legal Aid had been re-launched as the APPG on Access to Justice and its continued focus on legal aid and helping our clients.

How can the next government ensure there is access to justice?

Panel: Daniel Bonich of Clarke Kiernan, Fadi Daoud of Lawrence & Co, Dr Laura Janes of SCOMO, GT Stewart and LSBU, Jenny Beck KC (Hon) of Beck Fitzgerald, Julie Bishop of LCN, Rosaleen Kilbane of Community Law Partnership and Sue James of Legal Action Group.

A great panel at the end of the day gave their views on how to ensure there is access to justice by putting forward their top two asks of the next government.


Managing Remotely and Hybrid Working – what gets your vote? –

Matthew Howgate (Consultant) and Vicky Ling (Consultant)


Family Law Update 1 (Private) –

Jenny Beck KC (Hon) (Director, Beck Fitzgerald) and Lucy Verity (Director, Philcox Gray).


Means Test Update –

Eve McNally (Legal Aid Agency), Jim Peake (Lead Means Assessor, Legal Aid Agency), Kate Pasfield (Director of Legal Aid Policy, LAPG) and Madeleine van Oss (Means Test Review Policy Lead, Ministry of Justice)


A Career in Legal Aid –

Run by YLAL. Panel includes: Isaac Abraham (Solicitor, Wilson Solicitors LLP), Ife Kubler-Agyemang (Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers), Kauser Fadal (Trainee Solicitor, Wilson Solicitors LLP) and Marie Paris (Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers)

Managing Legal Aid Contracts: Including changes for the Standard Civil Contract 2024 –

Matthew Howgate and Vicky Ling


Issues around Vulnerability and Capacity –

Dr Laura Janes (Consultant Solicitor, Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd and GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates) and Diane Astin (Solicitor and Senior Lecturer in Legal Practice, Brunel University)

Materials (Dr Laura Janes)

Materials (Diane Astin)

Maximising Costs / Minimising Loss – back to basics focusing on the Costs Assessment Guidance and maximising recovery –

Shaun Williams (South West and Wales Deputy Regional Manager, The John M Hayes Partnership Limited) and David Disney (CEO Costs Lawyer, The John M Hayes Partnership Limited)


Family Law Update 2 (Public) –

Jenny Beck KC (Hon) (Director, Beck Fitzgerald) and Lucy Verity (Director, Philcox Gray).


Immigration and Asylum – strategies to survive the legal aid crisis –

Jawaid Luqmani (Partner, Luqmani Thompson), Matthew Davies (Deputy Managing Partner, Wilson Solicitors LLP), Mala Savjani (Solicitor, Wilson Solicitors LLP and Here for Good), Brian Dikoff (Legal Organiser at Migrants Organise) and Madeleine Kelleher (Solicitor, Southwark Law Centre)

Housing Update –

Rosaleen Kilbane (Director, The Community Law Partnership) and Simon Mullings (Housing Team Leader Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre and co-chair HLPA)


Crime Update and Prison Law Updates –

Speakers included Daniel Bonich (Partner at Clarke Kiernan LLP, Chair CLSA (Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association) ), Dr Laura Janes, Andrew Sperling (Managing Director, SL5 Legal) and Fadi Daoud (Extradition and Crime Partner at Lawrence & Co Solicitors, President of the LCCSA)


Family and CoP HCCPs –

Jenny Beck KC (Hon), Laura Bennett (Associate and Regional Manager, The John M Hayes Partnership Limited) and Nicola Mackintosh KC (Hon)

Materials (Nicola Mackintosh KC (Hon) )

Materials Laura Bennett

Thanks to Richard Gray for the photos

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