Ministry of Justice post-implementation review of Part 1 LASPO Act - Law Society response

In April 2013, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) came into effect and introduced funding cuts to legal aid, meaning fewer people can access legal advice.

In October 2017, the government announced it would conduct a post-implementation review of the legal aid changes in LASPO.

This is our response to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) post-implementation review of part 1 of LASPO.

Download the full response:

The Law Society’s submission of evidence to the MoJ’s LASPO part 1 post-implementation review (PDF 141 KB) 

Our view

We believe that:

  • legal aid is no longer available for many who need it
  • those eligible for legal aid find it hard to access
  • wide gaps in legal aid provision are not being addressed
  • LASPO has had a negative impact on the state and society

Our response focuses on these findings, taken from our report on LASPO published in June 2017, LASPO four years on.

The report gives:

  • our view on the legal aid changes introduced under LASPO
  • recommendations to government to address the problems caused by the legal aid cuts

We also believe it’s important to have qualified and regulated solicitors available to provide advice and representation.

Legal aid research

We believe the MoJ should consider the following research reports when reviewing LASPO. The annexes are referenced in the full response.

Annex 1

Evidence for LASPO review (Excel 28 KB) 

Annex 2

LASPO four years on: a Law Society review 

Annex 3

Proposed amendments to statutory instrument: civil legal aid regulation 2017 (PDF 116 KB) 
Rights of Women submitted concerns and proposed amendments to the MoJ on 7 September 2018.

Annex 4

Priced out of justice? Means testing legal aid and making ends meet (PDF 733 KB)  
We commissioned Professor Donald Hirsch of Loughborough University to consider legal aid eligibility for those on low incomes. The report concludes that people with incomes below the Minimum Income Standard can either exceed the maximum income threshold or if eligible cannot realistically afford the current levels of contributions.

Annex 5

Affordability of legal proceedings for those financially excluded from legal aid by reason of exceeding the capital threshold (PDF 3 MB)  
We commissioned research from Dr Lisa Whitehouse on capital eligibility. The report finds that it’s not realistic for most people who have low incomes and are excluded from legal aid because they exceed the capital threshold to borrow a loan to pay for legal services.

Annex 6

Affordability of legal proceedings for those excluded from criminal legal aid under the Means Regulations (PDF 514 KB)  
The report shows that many working people on low incomes facing criminal charges are being denied the right to a fair trial as they are unable to afford the legal aid contributions and cannot afford to pay privately for legal representation.

Annex 7

Civil and criminal solicitors’ views on LASPO (PDF 648 KB)  
We commissioned this report from BVA BDRC. Focus groups were set up around the country to get up-to-date evidence on the impact of legal aid cuts.

Annex 8

Law Society non-moderated focus groups on LASPO part 1 (PDF 107 KB)  
Three non-moderated events took place in Portsmouth, Nottingham and Sheffield.

What this means for solicitors

The government has now reviewed part 1 of LASPO and has published an action plan to deliver better support for people experiencing legal problems. Read more on LASPO

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