The successive bodies in charge of administering legal aid have been storing up trouble for the future, and the decision to make the Legal Services Commission an executive agency will further compound the problem, says Steve Hynes

With a general election only a few weeks away, no one can accuse the government of running out of steam on legal aid policy. Sir Ian Magee’s review of ‘Legal Aid Delivery and Governance’ was published on 3 March and the government announced its intention of going for perhaps the most radical option the report outlined: to take direct control of the Legal Services Commission by making it an ‘executive agency’. To do this the government will need to either amend or replace the Access to Justice Act (AJA).

Separation of funds rejected

When the legal aid system was established in 1949 it was administered by the Law Society. A combination of a budget crisis and administrative incompetence led to the creation...

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