On 21 February 2024 we submitted our response to the Ministry of Justice’s Review of Civil Legal Aid Call for Evidence.

Our response provides a detailed explanation of the myriad issues undermining the ability of legal aid practitioners to meet the needs of clients. In particular, we focused on the following key, overarching issues:

  • The need to increase legal aid fees, at the very least in line with inflation since they were last set in 1996 – this is the most significant issue and one that the MoJ must address urgently
  • A recommendation that once fees have been increased, they must be reviewed annually to ensure that they keep pace with increases in the cost of delivering services
  • The need to widen scope, with a recommendation to return to the pre-LASPO position, to ensure that legal aid services match what clients need
  • A call for simpler and more open commissioning processes
  • Recommendations for a wide range of changes to fix problems with legal aid contracts, particularly in relation to compliance and payment mechanisms
  • Suggestions for further changes to the Means Test and the process for assessing financial eligibility
  • Requests to reduce complexity, administrative burdens and risk
  • The need for widespread improvement in LAA I.T. systems
  • Recognition of the crucial interplay between civil legal aid and court and tribunal processes

There is also a clear need for the LAA and MoJ to improve their data collection and invest in research and data analysis, as pointed out by the National Audit Office. At present, MoJ and LAA data does not enable them to measure legal need or assess whether legal aid services are capable of meeting legal need. There are also inadequate systems in place to measure the viability of the legal aid provider base and therefore take preemptive action to ensure a sustainable supply of legal aid services.

Download a copy of our response here

We will shortly publish an executive summary of our response, collating all of the recommendations we have made to the MoJ to improve civil legal aid and therefore access to justice.