Legal Aid: Refocusing on Prioirity Cases
The above consultation paper by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) sets out proposals to change the existing civil and criminal legal aid funding rules to refocus resources on to priority cases.
For civil legal aid the MoJ are proposing a variety of changes to the Funding Code criteria, procedures and guidance to give better focus to the civil legal aid scheme, and to ensure resources are properly targeted.
The proposals include reforming the existing system for assessing whether a case is of ‘wider public interest’; removing from scope certain low value damages claims, where these can be dealt with through complaints systems or ombudsman schemes; and giving improved control over grants of funding for judicial review cases in the context of a significant fall in the number of judicial review permission applications which are granted by the High Court.
For criminal legal aid the MoJ proposees the removal of quasi-civil advice on minor treatment issues from scope, where these can be dealt with through complaints systems or ombudsman schemes. Criminal legal aid will remain available for parole and sentencing matters. Civil legal aid will remain available for public law challenges or damage claims where there is a serious issue to be addressed.
The paper can be accessed by clickingon this MoJ link
The deadline for responses is 8th October 2009.