Ministry of Justice
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£50 million for legal aid sector

Up to £51 million will go to the legal aid sector to better reflect the vital work criminal advocates and solicitors do, under government reforms announced today (21 August 2020).

  • new payments better reflect the amount of work that goes into preparing cases for trial
  • ministers announce independent review to look at the sustainability of the legal aid market
  • part of ongoing work to create a fair and proportionate legal aid system for all

These new payments will directly address the considerable time and effort put in behind the scenes to prepare cases. This can include reviewing sometimes vast quantities of digital evidence in a case, which has significantly increased in recent years.

Today’s reforms are the first step in an ongoing government review of criminal legal aid which seeks to create an effective and sustainable system, ensuring access to justice and value for taxpayer money.

 The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, said:

Every day barristers and solicitors do outstanding work to ensure defendants get a fair trial and justice is delivered.

These new payments is the first step in our plan to make sure the criminal legal aid system is fair and proportionate for all, and we will set out further measures in due course.

It follows a consultation launched in February which considered a variety of changes to the way legal aid fees are paid to criminal advocates and solicitors.

Specifically, the new measures provide:

  • new payments for litigators and advocates for reviewing unused material
  • additional payments for advocates with exceptionally high volumes of prosecution evidence, with payments made at an hourly rate
  • increased payments for advocates preparing cases which fall at the first hurdle at the Crown Court, i.e. when a plea is given in the first hearing
  • new payments for solicitors for the work they do ahead of sending cases to the Crown Court

Ministers have also confirmed that an independent review of the criminal legal aid market will commence later this year which seeks to ensure its sustainability, and value for public funds.

Notes to Editors

In February the government launched a consultation on an accelerated package of measures amending the criminal legal aid fee schemes. The response to that consultation was published today, including plans to pay criminal advocates and solicitors up to £51 million extra for the work they do.

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