Legal aid is government-funded legal services for people who meet its eligibility criteria. In England and Wales, it is administered by the Legal Aid Agency, an agency of the Ministry of Justice. Legal aid is made up of criminal legal aid for criminal cases and civil legal aid for non-criminal cases. The Ministry set out its proposals for reforming legal aid in November 2010. It reduced fees paid to civil legal aid providers by 10% between October 2011 and February 2012. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 reduced the range of issues and financial eligibility criteria for receiving legal aid.
This inquiry aims to identify the full costs of the reforms and explore why the Ministry did not do more to understand the wider costs of the reforms to civil legal aid before implementing changes; explore the Ministry’s understanding of how and why people access civil legal aid and identify how the Ministry intends to better target civil legal aid at those who are eligible and examine the management of the legal aid market, including the quality of the services it pays for.
Terms reference: Implementing the reforms to civil legal aid