Justice secretary Ken Clarke is expected to tell the Commons tomorrow that key concessions will be made in the drastic cuts planned for civil legal aid, sources have told Solicitors Journal.
Under the legal aid green paper, claimants hoping to qualify for legal aid on the grounds of domestic violence would need to show evidence of a criminal conviction or an injunction.
Clarke is expected to say that the definition of domestic violence will be extended to cover victims of emotional abuse, in line with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the issue, or dropped completely to avoid people making false claims just to qualify for legal aid.
The justice secretary is also likely to offer something to those MPs from all parties who have been lobbying the MoJ over the closure of CABx, law centres and other advice agencies.
A further area where Clarke might announce a rethink is the abolition of legal aid for medical negligence cases. Lord Justice Jackson is known to be opposed to the move and removing access to public funding for people who suffered severe disabilities at birth would be politically sensitive.
One option would be to retain legal aid for the most serious medical negligence cases, at least to fund initial investigations and experts’ reports.
The all-party justice select committee will publish its report on legal aid on Wednesday morning. The report was circulated to journalists this afternoon under a strict embargo to avoid a clash with Clarke’s announcements.
Details of the justice secretary’s response to the MoJ consultation on the Jackson review have already been trailed by The Guardian at the weekend.
The government is expected to go ahead with Jackson LJ’s recommendations that success fees and insurance premiums should no longer be recoverable.