A report released today on the future of legal aid by the Justice Committee includes PLP’s recommendations on how the current provision of legal aid can and should be urgently improved.

Read the full report by the Justice Committee

The report calls for an overhaul of the current system designed around the needs of those who use it, with a greater number of providers able to access the necessary funding that would ensure consistent access to legal aid lawyers for those who need legal assistance.

Emphasis on the significant reform needed to ensure a fair system and the inadequacy of current practice highlights the need for urgent and substantive action to take place. The lack of adequate Government response to similar concerns raised in 2015 and 2019 is unsatisfactory and amplifies the growing call for a more flexible system based around those who need it most.

PLP supports the overall report findings and urges the Government to respond in the interests of ensuring access to legal aid as a key component of the constitutional right of access to justice.

We’re encouraged to see the inclusion of our key recommendations to the Committee, which stated that;

  • means testing for legal aid should be simplified and reviewed on an annual basis
  • the  Exceptional Case Funding scheme be improved so that those without sufficient financial means are on equal terms with those that can afford representation
  • the Legal Aid Agency should reduce the financial risks that providers are subjected to.

Daniel Rourke, Lead Lawyer and Legal Aid Focus Area Lead at Public Law Project said:

“This is an encouraging set of recommendations that largely align with our submission to the Justice Committee in providing access to justice for the most vulnerable and the reform of means testing to ensure it is fit for purpose.

“We are pleased that our work on legal aid has helped drive change but we urge the Government to respond to the urgency of this report by taking action to establish legal aid as a public service where justice is guaranteed.”

Read our written evidence and recommendations to the Justice Select Committee