In October 2006, the Government introduced a means-testing scheme for legal aid for defendants being tried at the magistrates’ courts. Since then, net savings of over £80 million have been delivered. Following a consultation process, the Government now intend to fulfil their stated commitment to extend means testing to defendants and appellants appearing in the Crown Court.
The consultation exercise began on 6 November 2008, and concluded on 29 January 2009. Ministers have been considering their proposals in the light of that exercise. A response to consultation and impact assessment on Crown Court means testing is today being published by the Ministry of Justice. These documents are accompanied by a separate, but associated, response to consultation and impact assessment on reforming payments from central funds to acquitted defendants.
Copies of the responses to consultation and impact assessments in respect of both Crown Court means testing and reforming payments from central funds have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.