In this article, we discuss whether the Government will be able to complete its long-awaited review of ‘controversial’ legal aid and access to justice reforms by summer of 2018, as promised.[i]
On 30 October 2017, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published a post-legislative memorandum[ii] and stated that their aim was to ‘work collaboratively with key parties across the sector’ and complete its review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 by summer of this year.
On 7 February 2018, Richard Miller, the head of justice at the Law Society, attended an all-party parliamentary group meeting on legal aid and updated other attendees that the Society are still waiting to receive correspondence concerning the MoJ’s plans to engage with legal profession for their expertise on the subject.
Labour MP, Laura Smith, questioned justice minister, Lucy Frazer QC, when the Government’s review of LASPO would begin. In response, she commented that they ‘will be reaching out to experts and interested parties in the relevant fields to inform the evidence gathering process’, but did not specify a date.
Andy Slaughter, Labour MP and vice-chair of the legal aid all-party group, has commented that the Ministry’s review will take time, adding:
‘I often criticise the government for taking its time to respond to consultations, but this is such a big project. We have the benefit of the last five years of saying how LASPO has completely changed the terrain as far as legal aid and access to justice is concerned that I would rather the government take this seriously and take their time with it. What I would not want to see is [the government] just going through the motions.’[iii]
[i] Monidipa Fouzder, ‘Doubts over summer deadline for LASPO review’ (7 February 2018 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/doubts-over-summer-deadline-for-laspo-review/5064695.article> accessed 7 February 2018.
[ii] Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012: Post-Legislative Memorandum (30 October 2017 Ministry of Justice) <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/655971/LASPO-Act-2012-post-legislative-memorandum.pdf> accessed 7 February 2018.
[iii] Ibid at 1.