Legal Aid Update..April 2007


Comment on Legal Aid in the Guardian





New Ministry of Justice announced


Keith Vaz MP comments on cuts in Legal Aid


Parliamentary Questions

How much does the Legal Services Commission administration cost as a proportion of Legal Aid Spending?

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what percentage of Legal Services Commission costs are accounted for by administration. [129121]

Vera Baird: The latest figures available (2005-06) show that the Legal Services Commission's administration costs equate to 4.8 per cent. of expenditure on legal aid.

Domestic Violence and Legal Aid

Harry Cohen: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the effect on those (a) affected by domestic violence and (b) on low incomes of the proposed changes to legal aid arrangements; and if she will make a statement. [129570]

Ms Harman: Domestic violence is a cross-Government priority and formalised through the formation of the Inter-Ministerial Group for Domestic Violence. The Group comprises of Ministers from nine Government Departments and the three devolved administrations. In light of the assessments and priority need, the group prepares an Annual Delivery Plan and reports against progress each year. The report for 2006-07 will be published shortly together with the Delivery Plan for 2007-08.

Domestic Violence proceedings are a priority area for legal aid funding. The Legal Services Commission's (LSC's) Funding Code Criteria for domestic violence cases are wider than for most other family and non-family areas; they are not limited to any specific definition of domestic violence or abuse. When appearing in a family court, persons of limited means will be funded in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. As a separate measure to the wider programme of legal aid reform as set out in "Legal Aid Reform: The Way Ahead" the financial eligibility limits for legal aid for domestic violence victims will be raised and both income and capital limits will be able to waived, by the LSC, on a discretionary basis from 9 April 2007. In criminal proceedings, the Crown Prosecution Service represents the victim of domestic violence.

Legal Services Commission

Press release on the unified contract


Law Society

Including information that 85% of Legal Aid firms have signed the Unified Contract



Consultation on the extension of the Duty Solicitor Call Centre



The LAPG and Fisher Meredith Solicitors have both released press releases today warning of the consequences if the deadline to sign the proposed new Unified Contract is not extended.

The LAPG has today written to the Legal Services Commission urging the LSC to think again about imposing the new legal aid contract on the legal professsion in order to prevent significant harm to the interests of clients.

Law Society announces legal challenge! 22/3/07

Legal aid is under threat.

The latest government proposals will deny justice to the most vulnerable in society. In a time of increased police powers, a raft of new offences and a greater complexity of law, the government want to dumb down justice. While we see more legislation criminalising peaceful protest, repressive legislation for asylum seekers, and with Courts busier than ever before in family and care proceedings, more and more people will face these issues without legal representation. Without access to justice, there can be no justice.

Please join us on Monday 19th March, 2.30pm-5.30pm at Old Palace Yard, opposite Houses of Parliament, to show a united front against this infringement of basic civil liberties. Bring banners, placards and as many of your friends and colleagues as you can muster.

Legal Aid Update March 2007

Reaction to YLAL Event 22nd February

Legal Service Commission Otterburn Report into the Carter Reforms

  • The report is a worrying assessment of the impact of Carter on Legal Aid Firms. For a good summary of the report follow the link below.


Law Society Defending Legal Aid

  • Sign up for regular newsletters from the Law Society on Legal Aid Reforms


Recent News from the Legal Aid Practitioners Group http://www.lapg.co.uk/

  • Unified Contract LAPG has condemned the significant commercial risks placed on practitioners from by the draft unified contract. The Specification prohibits suppliers from undertaking the management of caseloads necessary to operate in a fixed fee environment, by imposing on solicitors a ‘cab-rank rule’, under which they will be required to take on every case that comes through the door if they have current capacity. “The LSC is also reserving the right to cut the Standard or Graduated Fees during the short life of this contract if the average amount of work reported by the profession in any category decreases by more than 10%. So in the unlikely event that firms can achieve savings as the LSC wants to encourage, their reward will be to have the fees cut again.” “On top of all of this, the dreaded Contract Compliance Audits are back with a vengeance, complete with extrapolation of results to all of a firm’s non-standard claims and recoupment of costs previously paid. CCAs did huge damage to firms’ cash flow when the LSC recouped hundreds of thousands of pounds legitimately claimed by firms, after inadequately qualified and poorly trained LSC staff carried out incompetent audits.

For More information on the Unified Contract and the Law Society’s Legal Advice to firms see links below



  • LAPG Still has grave concerns about the LSC’s Proposals for Family graduated fixed fees. Although the plans are an improvement on the way ahead they still have worries, in particular and child work. They also have serious concerns about the fees in Immigration and how the LSC have actually calculated these fees.

  • Pressures of responding to so many consultations Richard Miller,also expressed concern about the pace and extent of change. “Today I have downloaded nineteen pdf files from the Legal Services Commission website, including annexes and regulatory impact assessments. This is on top of consultations published earlier this month on police station boundaries and the very high cost criminal case panel, not to mention the negotiations on the new unified contract. I am paid full time to keep on top of the LSC’s initiatives, and I can barely cope with this blizzard of publications. How on earth can any practitioner who is trying to conduct a substantial caseload to a high standard be expected to do so? The sheer volume, speed and extent of the changes is liable to destroy the legal aid system even if the substance doesn’t.”


  • The Legal Aid EDM now has 141 signatures from MPs. Ask your MP to sign if they have not done son already.

  • Sign up to the Downing Street Petition ‘Scrap Carter’ using the link below


  • The Constitutional Affairs Committee Evidence 20th February on Legal Aid reforms – See what the Head of Legal Services Commission has to say on the implementation of the Carter Proposals.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/uc223- v/uc22302.htm

  • Public Accounts Committee – Legal Aid and Mediation in Family cases

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmpubacc/uc396- i/uc39602.htm

Parliamentary Roundup

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) publishes its Third Report of Session
2006-07, Legislative Scrutiny: Second Progress Report, on Wednesday 7 February
2007 at 10.00 am as House of Lords Paper HL 39, House of Commons Paper HC 287.
In this report, the Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to the
Concessionary Bus Travel Bill, the Legal Services Bill and the Offender
Management Bill.
Link to EDM 537 Legal Aid Reform

Link to progress on the Legal Services Bill