David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has welcomed the Lord Chancellor’s announcement today (5/9/13) of further changes to the legal aid system that will toughen its scope and make it fairer for the taxpayer.
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, will take the following steps in response to consultation with the public and the Law Society:
• Stop criminal legal aid being given to prisoners unnecessarily – such as those seeking an easier ride in another prison;
• Introduce a threshold on Crown Court legal aid to stop the wealthiest defendants being automatically granted legal aid;
• Bring in a residency test so that only those with a strong connection to the UK are able to receive civil legal aid;
• Make it harder for claimants to use civil legal aid to bring speculative cases by ensuring all cases must have at least a 50% chance of success to be funded; and
• Reduce the cost of the long-running criminal cases, which place too much of a burden on taxpayers.
A further consultation on proposals agreed with the Law Society will also take place on issues relating to contracts with law firms.
Mr Evennett said “The Government inherited from Labour one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world. We are taking action to ensure that justice is accessible to those who most need it whilst reducing the cost to the taxpayer. It is also right to stop the system being abused by prisoners and by those who have been in the UK for under twelve months from receiving taxpayer support. I welcome these important reforms and am pleased that the Lord Chancellor was able to reach agreement with the Law Society on the package.
“These proposals show that this Government remains on the side of those who work hard and want to get on.”