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Criminal legal aid review – news and updates

5 November 2019

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is reviewing the current criminal legal aid fee schemes. It will deliver a final report, including any recommendations, towards the end of the summer 2020.

Our view

We’re giving input into the review in the following areas:

Sustainability

 
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We believe fees must:

  • allow firms to recruit and keep new lawyers
  • be increased and kept at an adequate level
  • reflect the 24-hour service
  • enable career progression
  • keep the criminal defence profession diverse
 

Quality

 
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We think there should be:

  • incentives for solicitors at the right level of seniority to do the work
  • enhanced fees for work in the youth courts
 

Simplicity

 
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Red tape and administration should be reduced.

Rewarding early work

 
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We believe there should be:

  • payment for consideration of disclosure of evidence early in the case
  • front loading of Crown Court fees
  • fees that better reflect the work required for guilty pleas
  • payment for looking at unused material
 

Fair pay

 
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We think there should be:

  • payment for out-of-hours work
  • payment for work that is currently unpaid
 

Future-proofing

 
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Any new fee scheme needs to adapt to changes in technology and changes in:

  • police practice
  • court and police station consolidation
  • case mix
  • political priorities
  • society
 

Waste reduction

 
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The cost of avoidable waste in the system, for example as a result of bureaucratic error or lack of preparation, should be borne by the people or agency causing the waste.

Yearly fee reviews

 
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We believe there should be:

  • reviews every year, based on data, of whether the fees are properly paying solicitors for the work they do
  • fee increases every year in line with inflation
 

What we're doing

November 2019 – Impact of general election on the review

We had expected an interim set of announcements in November 2019 as part of the accelerated work in the criminal legal aid review.

Due to the December 2019 general election, anticipated announcements cannot now take place in November as originally expected.

Alongside our criminal justice campaign, the Law Society and others have been feeding evidence into the review to ensure that our serious concerns regarding the sustainability of the criminal justice system are understood. A strong evidence base has been built, but it remains a matter for the next administration to make decisions on future investment.

We understand that it is feasible that interim decisions could be made shortly after the election.

Whatever the outcome of the general election, we will do all we can to ensure that the criminal justice system is an urgent priority for the next government.

July 2019 – review work plan accelerated

The MoJ accelerated its review work plan of criminal legal aid fees in key areas we lobbied on.

March 2019 – review started

The MoJ began its review of criminal legal aid fees, which is due to report at the end of 2020.

Get involved

Give your feedback to the MoJ review  

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