In this article, we discuss the latest estimates on when the Government’s ‘ambitious’ deadline for the review of ‘controversial’ legal aid and access to justice reforms will be carried out[i].
We last reported on the LASPO review in edition 218 (here) of BC Disease News, in which we conveyed that the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) post-legislative memorandum stated aims to complete its long-awaited review of LASPO by summer of 2018. Just one month beforehand, in edition 214 (here), we reported that David Gauke MP would be taking office as Lord Chancellor, replacing David Lidington MP.
The new Lord Chancellor has recently spoken to the Commons Justice Select Committee on the summer deadline, expressing that it ‘is an ambitious timetable and ... I want to look at whether that is deliverable’.
He also said that it is 'more important to get this right rather than have a particular timeframe. I think it is likely it will take us longer to do that. I certainly don't want us to slip into next year.'
However, the political opposition has expressed concern over the review. Richard Burgon, Shadow Justice Secretary, has commented that it is 'disappointing that the justice secretary failed to mention legal aid as one of his ministry's priorities'.
Additionally, Christina Blacklaws, Vice-President of the Law Society, mirrored the view of the Lord Chancellor, in emphasising that ‘getting the review right should be the priority’. However, the Chancery Lane-based Society is ‘concerned the MoJ hasn’t even got it underway yet’.
Although the Government initially suggested a summer deadline for the review, current progress appears to suggest that quality will be prioritised over timing. We will report on any further updates surrounding the latest pre-2019 estimate in due course.
[i] Mondipa Fouzder and John Hyde, ‘LASPO review: government to revisit ‘ambitious’ summer deadline’ (March 2018 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/laspo-review-government-to-revisit-ambitious-summer-deadline-/5065132.article> accessed 8 March 2018.