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Legal Aid (Funding)

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

The Ministry of Justice and the Legal Aid Agency keep the legal aid scheme under constant review, in terms of both expenditure and the impact of reforms. The Government will undertake a post-implementation review of the legal aid provisions in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 within the next three to five years.

Since the Government’s legal aid cuts, more of my constituents have had to represent themselves in family courts against former partners who can afford a solicitor, and local cases are being deferred by judges because they do not feel that the litigant in person is sufficiently prepared. Does the Minister agree that it is time to be transparent and produce figures showing the number of litigants who have appeared in person and the number of deferred cases that have taken place since the changes, so that we can judge the impact on our courts for ourselves?

The reforms did not come into effect until earlier this year, and we need to give them a bit more time. As I have said, we will be reviewing the position, but it is currently too early to form a proper assessment.