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MoJ Legal Support Action Plan - summary

7 February 2019

Following the government’s post-implementation review of LASPO, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published a Legal Support Action Plan setting out the steps it plans to take to improve access to legal support services.

The government has committed to:

Means test

  • Completing a comprehensive review of the legal aid eligibility regime by summer 2020.
  • Bringing forward proposals for extending eligibility for non‑means tested legal aid for parents, or those with parental responsibility, who wish to oppose applications for placement orders or adoption orders in public family law proceedings by summer 2019, subject to parliamentary approval.

Legal aid awareness campaign

  • Launching a campaign to improve awareness of how people can access legal support, including legal aid, by autumn 2019.

Scope

  • Bringing forward proposals to expand the scope of legal aid to include separated migrant children in immigration cases by spring 2019.
  • Bringing forward proposals to expand the scope of legal aid to cover special guardianship orders in private family law by autumn 2019.
  • Continuing to work with the Law Society to explore an alternative model for family legal aid.

Exceptional case funding

  • Working with legal practitioners to consider whether the process for applying for exceptional case funding can be simplified, and ensure that the forms and guidance are as accessible as possible by the end of 2019.
  • Working to improve timeliness of the Exceptional Case Funding process, to ensure that people can access funding when they need it by the end of 2019.
  • Considering whether it is necessary to introduce a new emergency procedure for urgent matters to access Exceptional Case Funding by the end of 2019.

Telephone gateway

  • Removing the mandatory requirements from the telephone gateway for debt, discrimination and special educational needs cases which are already in scope by spring 2020.

Inquests

  • Consulting on proposals to provide separate guidance for families which sets out the inquest process and legal aid system in lay terms.
  • Bringing forward changes to the ECF application process as a whole to address the perceived problems with the complexity of the forms and the time needed to complete them.
  • Consulting on introducing a provision for the backdating of the legal help waiver, so that all such payments can be backdated to the date of application should a waiver be granted.

Legal support

  • Undertaking a pilot to explore how it can better co-ordinate and signpost legal support.
  • Testing a series of changes and enhancements to triage and signposting support offered as part of the Civil Legal Aid Telephone Advice Service by summer 2019.

Early advice

  • Bringing forward proposals to pilot and evaluate the expansion of legal aid to cover early advice in a specific area of social welfare law by autumn 2019.

Legal support hubs

  • Working collaboratively with the sector to pilot, test and evaluate the provision of holistic legal support hubs to more effectively support earlier resolution of a person’s legal problems.

Litigants in person

  • Enhancing the support offered by MoJ and HMCTS for litigants in person, as well as increasing funding for the Litigants in Person Support Strategy to £3m for the next two years.

Cross-government working

  • Working more closely across departments, including through existing cross-government groups, and bringing together departments and support providers to focus on ways to reduce preventable demand.

Legal support advisory network

  • Continuing to work across the justice system to explore how it can use data more effectively.
  • Setting up a Legal Support Advisory Network to make use of external expertise, shape research and evaluation proposals, and potentially explore new research opportunities and collaborations.

Review of criminal legal aid fees

  • Completing a comprehensive review of the criminal legal aid fee schemes and structures by summer 2020.

Review of regulatory and administrative requirements passed onto providers

  • Completing a comprehensive review of the regulatory and administrative requirements passed onto providers and work with users to streamline these where possible by the end of 2020.

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