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Legal Aid

Volume 699: debated on Monday 18 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the remarks by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 5 February (Official Report, col. 1010), how much each of the 95,000 applications for legal aid by juveniles cost to assess. [HL1872]

During the calendar year 2006, criminal proceedings were taken against 126,000 youths (source: Criminal Statistics for England and Wales, Volume 1, Proceedings in Magistrates' Courts, Table S1.1E). Each criminal proceeding recorded involved at least one hearing before a criminal court. Based on figures for the calendar year 2007, approximately 95,000 youths currently apply for legal aid, out of which only 1,600 are unsuccessful.

Her Majesty's Courts Service has estimated that the total average cost of assessing each legal aid application from a youth during the calendar year 2007 was £10.74. Removing the “interests of justice” test from the application form is estimated to save £2.27 per application.

If, in removing the “interests of justice” test, only the 1,600 who currently apply and fail were to secure legal aid, this would generate total administrative savings of £216,000, although the additional representation orders would place a burden on the Legal Aid Fund of £880,000.

However, if 10 per cent of the 31,000 youths who do not currently apply for legal aid chose to do so, knowing that they would now qualify, it is estimated that the additional cost in processing these applications would be £26,000 and that the cost of granting the additional representation orders would be £1.7 million.

If all 31,000 youths were to apply, it is estimated that the additional cost in processing the applications would be £260,000 with an additional cost to the Legal Aid Fund in granting the applications of £17 million.