You are here

Legal aid cuts postponed to April 2013

1 December 2011

The government is postponing implementation of the cuts contained in its legal aid bill to April 2013. Consultation on competitive tendering for criminal legal aid has been postponed until the autumn of 2013.

A spokesman for the MoJ said the decision to push back implementation of the civil legal aid cuts from October 2012 was to allow 12 months for a full tender process take place “once parliament has confirmed the precise content of the bill”.

He said the earliest date for the bill to receive Royal Assent was March 2012, and there needed to be clarity about the content of secondary legislation relevant to the contract process.

This was particularly necessary for the abolition of the LSC and its replacement with an executive agency, cuts in the scope of civil legal aid, introduction of a compulsory telephone gateway and the revised eligibility criteria.

“New contracts to provide civil and family advice will be offered to lawyers in April 2013, which will give them sufficient time to consider the final details of the new legal aid scheme which parliament is expected to agree in spring 2012,” the spokesman said.

“Once lawyers have adjusted to the new scheme and other regulatory changes, we will consult in autumn 2013 on introducing competition for criminal defence work, with a view to extending it to civil and family work at a later date.”

The MoJ originally hoped to consult on competitive tendering for criminal work before the end of this year.

Justice secretary Ken Clarke told the Commons this morning that the development of a “competition strategy” for crime would now happen “once the key components of our legal aid reform package, the regulatory changes allowing alternative business structures, and the introduction of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates have had time to bed down”.

Categorised in:

Legal Aid