After some delay since the General Election in Parliament agreeing the composition of Select Committees for this Parliamentary session, a new Justice Select Committee has now been appointed, with Bob Neil MP re-elected as Chair. The Justice Select Committee is expected to play a key role in the post implementation review of the last Government’s legal aid reforms (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012).
The Government had announced the likely timetable for a review earlier this year, which it was aiming to be completed in 2018, with the initial stages of the review to be undertaken by way of a “post implementation memoranda” submitted by the Ministry of Justice to the Select Committee. However, it is anticipated that with the intervening election having taken place this might mean the timetable will slip, and further announcements are awaited.
LawWorks has been working over the summer with other stakeholders to develop and offer an evidence memorandum to the Justice Select Committee in advance of the review's formal start, covering key common areas of concern and priorities for changing and improving the system to better enable access to justice.
The stakeholder group has included Advice UK, the Advice Services Alliance, Coram Children's Legal Centre, Mind, JustRights, Legal Aid Practitioners Group, Law Centres Network, the Legal Action Group, London Legal Support Trust, the Personal Support Unit, Youth Access, the Bar Council, and the Immigration Practitioners Group.
The joint memoranda identifies the shortcomings of LASPO and presents a compelling case that:-
- the system needs to be more client focused, less bureacratic and better designed to meet the needs of vulnerable and low income people
- questions of scope should be deternimed on a more rational, fairer basis and criteria
- supporting the rule of law and equality of access to the legal system should be an underpinning principle for the system
- policy decisions should be taken on the basis of evidence, especially the evidence of the impact on different groups, and outcomes in a social policy context
A copy of the memoranda, and supporting evidence in appendices, can be found below:-
For further inquiries about LawWorks policy work on access to justice issues contact