The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) limited the availability of civil legal aid, removing large areas of law from within scope of legal aid. In response to concerns about LASPO, the government included a provision for funding to be made available in certain cases, which would otherwise be outside of the scope of legal aid: exceptional case funding (ECF).

This research briefing looks at the history of ECF funding, including application and success rates, the accessibility of the scheme and major litigation that occured concerning its operation. The paper draws conclusions as to whether the scheme is in fact providing a safety net for those otherwise excluded from legal aid.

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