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Legally Aided Litigants

Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 14 June 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of costs protection on the opponents of legally aided litigants. (76526)

No formal assessment has been made. However, the role of cost protection and its impact on clients and opponents was considered by the Department in 2004-05. It was decided to remove cost protection from most family cases but retain the existing rules for non-family proceedings. The purpose of cost protection is to ensure that vulnerable clients are not deterred from bringing proceedings by the threat of having to pay excessive costs, should they lose their case. Clients bringing certain types of civil proceedings with the help of legal aid are protected so that they can only be ordered to pay costs which are reasonable, given their circumstances. However, in certain circumstances, courts can also direct that costs awarded to an individual, against a funded client, should be paid by the Legal Services Commission, if the individual will suffer financial hardship if the costs are not paid.