LAPG is extremely saddened by the news that Mackintosh Law is winding down its services. The specialist mental capacity and community care law firm has been a member of LAPG since it was established and has a national reputation for cutting edge caselaw for vulnerable and disabled people. The firm has also been at the forefront of policy and campaigning initiatives to improve and expand the legal aid scheme. The loss of this pioneering firm will be felt deeply across the sector and is yet another clarion call for immediate and significant government action to address the ailing legal aid sector.

Jenny Beck KC (Hon), LAPG Co-Chair said:

‘Mackintosh Law is the latest in a series of firms which are either closing their legal aid departments or reducing the amount of legal aid work they can do for clients. This is a stark illustration of the crisis facing civil legal aid firms and charities because of a combination of stagnant fees over the last 3 decades and unnecessary bureaucracy in the civil legal aid system.

Community care and mental capacity legal specialists are desperately needed as disabled clients throughout England and Wales face unlawful decision-making and cuts to their care. The poor and vulnerable are hardest hit and cases often involve issues of life and death. People cannot get the legal help they need. Without skilled legal professionals to advise on their rights, injustice will prevail. That is simply wrong in a civilised society which professes to uphold the rule of law for all.

The government is currently carrying out a long-running Review of Civil Legal Aid. We are concerned that the Review does not adequately focus on the financial precarity facing so many legal aid organisations. Action is needed now, in advance of the completion of the Review, to prevent more providers from leaving the legal aid sector. Without action, providers will continue to close and there simply won’t be enough remaining to implement the recommendations arising from the Review. Planning must start now to train the next generation of legal aid lawyers and a central plank of that plan must be an urgent interim increase in civil legal aid fees given the stagnation of the last 30 years.

The stark reality facing the government is that the number of firms and charities delivering legal aid has been in decline for many years, with the sharpest reduction following the introduction of significant cuts to legal aid in 2013. The attrition rate has continued in recent years, with 1 in 6 Community Care, 1 in 5 Mental Health and 1 in 5 Housing providers withdrawing from legal aid over the last two years. Of those that remain, they find legal aid so unviable that many hold what the government has described as ‘dormant contracts’ and see no new clients each year. 30% of Housing providers and 41% of Community Care providers opened no new cases in the year

2021/22. Law Society data shows that large sections of the population have no access to legal aid on critical legal issues such as Housing, Community Care, Education and Welfare Benefits. This all spells disaster for those many millions of people in need of legal advice and assistance and demonstrates that urgent action must be taken to prevent more firms like Mackintosh Law from winding down.

Whilst Mackintosh Law itself is winding down, Nicola Mackintosh KC (Hon), Co-Chair of LAPG, will continue her invaluable work on policy and caselaw for some of the most vulnerable in society. There has never been a more important time to ensure that civil legal aid is firmly on the agenda so that it receives the priority it needs and deserves.’

Note to editors:
1. LAPG is the leading membership body for providers of legal aid services in England and Wales – including solicitors, barristers, legal executives, costs lawyers and caseworkers.
2. LAPG is campaigning for a range of changes to the legal aid system to improve client access and ensure that providers of legal aid services are put on a sustainable financial footing. For more information contact LAPG CEO Chris Minnoch –