Paying for legal help when ineligible for criminal legal aid – report

This report considers how people who do not qualify for criminal legal aid can afford to pay their legal costs without falling into poverty. It was conducted by Donald Hirsch, professor of social policy and director for the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Legal aid is only available to people whose income is below a certain level. To decide whether someone qualifies for legal aid, their application is means tested.

This report considers how people who do not pass the means test can afford some or all their legal costs while keeping an acceptable standard of living.

An acceptable standard of living is based on Donald Hirsch’s research into what is considered to be the minimum income standard.

The report looks at whether the current means test is:

  • set at the right level
  • a significant barrier to justice

We commissioned this report as part of our submission to the Ministry of Justice’s review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

It provides evidence to support our arguments that the government need to make changes to the means test.

We’re expecting the Ministry of Justice to review the means test, and we'll publish more information on this when we have it.

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