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LASPO bill is now an Act

1 May 2012

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) bill has today been granted Royal Assent and becomes the LASPO Act.

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “The Act ensures we will continue to have one of the most generous legal aid systems in the world, which together with no-win, no-fee deals means that legal help is widely available for those who cannot afford a lawyer.

“It will help people to explore the range of practical advice available to them to tackle problems early, rather than immediately taking legal action.”

The minister went on: “This Act will reduce lawyers’ fees, which we all end up paying for through increased prices and insurance premiums.

“It will make legal costs fairer between people suing for compensation and the defendants, so that the defendants are not denied access to justice through fear of high legal costs.”

Justice secretary Ken Clarke concentrated on changes to the criminal justice and prison system.

“These reforms will strengthen our work to cut crime, protect the public and ensure taxpayers’ money is being spent where it is most needed and most effective,” Clarke said.

“The Act will fundamentally improve many areas of the justice system and start to tackle the shameful rate of reoffending in this country, as well as ensuring we have clear, tough prison sentences and suitable punishments for criminals who use knives to threaten others, ruin lives with dangerous driving or who squat in people’s homes.”

Late changes to the bill criminalised squatting in people’s homes and created a new offence for those causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

A new offence, with a mandatory prison sentence, was also created of threatening people with a knife in public or at school.

Other changes to criminal law included community sentences with longer curfews, giving prosecutors the right to appeal against Crown Court bail decisions and creating a new sentencing regime to replace the indefinite imprisonment for public protection (IPP) scheme.

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Legal Aid