Legal aid

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on legal aid. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
21.06.2016Legal aid for representation at an inquest.
Legal aid for representation at an inquest is generally only available through the 'exceptional funding' criteria of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which came into force on 1 April 2013.
10.06.2016Civil Legal Aid: England & Wales, Scotland and N Ireland compared
A comparison of the different legal aid schemes in England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
31.05.2016No win, no fee funding arrangements
This Commons Library briefing paper looks at 'no win, no fee' funding arrangements in the UK. Following the withdrawal of civil legal aid, many litigants are reliant on such arrangements for access to justice. Unable to afford lawyers' fees, they enter into agreements whereby they will not pay their lawyers should they lose but must pay an extra success fee in the event that they are successful.
12.05.2016Legal help: where to go and how to pay
This note provides information about where to seek legal help and advice
12.05.2016Changes to criminal legal aid
On 28 January 2016 the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, told the House of Commons that his department would no longer pursue the introduction of the 'dual contracting' scheme for the provision of criminal litigation services in England and Wales. He also announced the suspension of a second reduction in solicitors' fees. The change in policy ended the long-running dispute between the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the legal profession over changes to criminal legal aid.
14.04.2016Commons Library analysis: Legal aid for victims of domestic abuse
The LASPO Act 2012 reduced the scope of civil legal aid. Controversy still surrounds its provision for private family law cases where, to be eligible, people seeking legal aid must provide evidence of domestic abuse.
10.02.2016The UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is conducting an inquiry into the impact of the UK Government's policies on people with disabilities in relation to their human rights obligations. This briefing paper provides information on the Committee, details of the inquiry and an overview of the Government's policies in relation to people with disabilities.
22.01.2016Commons Library analysis: Legal aid in England and Wales for civil claims against UK armed forces
Controversy surrounds the availability of legal aid, which (subject to the usual eligibility criteria) may be available in England and Wales for people outside the UK to make civil claims against UK armed forces.
14.01.2016Litigants in person: the rise of the self-represented litigant in civil and family cases in England and Wales
The available evidence indicates that the proportion of litigants appearing before the civil and family courts in England and Wales without legal representation (litigants in person, also sometimes called self-represented litigants) has increased since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 took many civil and private law children and family cases out of scope for legal aid from 1 April 2013. What does this mean, both for the litigants and for the courts?
14.01.2016Civil legal aid changes since 2013: the impact on people seeking help with legal problems
Changes to civil legal aid have reduced spending, but whether they have increased costs elsewhere or added to the difficulties people may face in obtaining help with legal problems remains controversial.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
07.12.2015Future of Legal Aid
This Library Note has been prepared in advance of the debate in the House of Lords on 10 December 2015 on the future of legal aid.
01.11.2013Debate on 7 November: The Armed Forces and Legal Challenge
This Note looks at some of the issues raised by legal challenges to the Armed Forces.
05.07.2013Debate on 11 July: Effect of Cuts in Legal Aid Funding on the Justice System
This Note contains a brief summary of the development of legal aid, focussing on changes since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, before summarising the most recent consultation paper, Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Transparent System. The Note then outlines reactions to the latest proposals and summarises recent parliamentary scrutiny of the proposed changes.
15.11.2011Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (HL Bill 109 of 2010-12)
This Library Note provides background information in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
16.11.2011Constitution Select Committee (HL) twenty-first report on Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment...
Constitution Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
21.06.2011The Government's proposed reform of legal aid.
Government response. Ministry of Justice report [Commons]
15.03.2011The Government's proposed reform of legal aid.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]
08.12.2009Family legal aid reform.
Government response. Ministry of Justice; Justice Select Committee report [Commons]
13.10.2009Family legal aid reform.
Government response. Ministry of Justice; Justice Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
01.11.2011PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES
That this House considers that any attempt to economise on our arcane, high fee, high cost and adversarial justice systemby cutting legal aid must deprive the poor and people of modest ...
31.10.2011PROVISION OF LEGAL AID
That this House notes with concern that proposed legal aid cuts will lead to a loss of face-to-face advice for debt, employment, housing and welfare benefits that could make the funding ...
08.06.2011LEGAL AID: CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE
That this House notes with great concern the Secretary of State for Justice's statement that, as part of the Government's proposed cuts to access to legal aid, `No win, no fee is ...
28.02.2011PROPOSED REDUCTIONS IN SPENDING ON LEGAL AID
That this House is alarmed by the Government's proposed changes to citizens' access to legal aid which, if introduced, will dramatically change the shape and scope of such important ...
19.01.2011CARTER RUCK
That this House notes with concern the report in The Guardian of 19 January 2011 that the solicitors Carter Ruck threatened the Soil Association with libel proceedings in order to bully ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses