JOINT

The implications for access to justice of the Government's proposed legal aid reforms

18 July 2013

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Dr Hywel Francis MP, is today launching an inquiry into the implications for access to justice of certain of the Government’s proposals to reform legal aid, as set out in its Consultation Paper Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system

The Committee seeks evidence from anyone with an interest in the human rights issues raised by the following proposals in particular:

  • The proposed introduction of a residence test for civil legal aid claimants, so as to limit legal aid to those with a "strong connection" with the UK
  • The proposed restriction on the scope of legal aid available to prisoners
  • The proposal that providers of legal services in applications for judicial review against public bodies should only be paid for work done on the case if the Court grants permission for the application to proceed
  • The proposal that legal aid should be removed for all cases assessed as having "borderline" prospects of success.

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Written evidence is sought by Friday 27 September 2013.  As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submissions of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ website. Please click the link here - submit written evidence online

It is expected that public hearings will be held in October.  The Committee aims to report to both Houses in time for its recommendations to be taken into account by the Government before it introduces any changes.  The Committee has written to the Government asking that the Government does not bring forward any measures to give effect to its proposals until the Committee has had an opportunity to report.  A copy of the Committee’s letter is available on its website.

NOTES:

  • Submissions should reach the Committee by Friday 27 September 2013 
  • Electronic submission in Word or Rich Text format is requested.
  • It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter.  You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  View guidance on giving evidence to Select Committees.
  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed, placed on the Internet or circulated by the Committee at any stage.
  • You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so, you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.
  • Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege.
  • If your evidence is not printed, it will in due course be made available to the public in the Parliamentary Archives.
  • All communications to the Committee about its legislative scrutiny should be addressed through the Clerks or the Chair of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee.

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