The Legal Aid Bill has now gone through parliament and will shortly become law.
This update on the changes to the Bill comes from the Justice for All campaign
Changes to the Bill since Autumn 2010
After the Green Paper
– Legal aid was preserved for Special Educational Needs cases
– Legal aid was preserved for international child abduction cases (later extended to also include internal child abduction cases)
– The mandatory telephone gateway was restricted to a pilot involving four areas of law, and later restrictred further to three areas.
– The plan to force any client with more than £1000 of disposable capital to make a £100 contribution to their legal costs was dropped.
During the Bill
– The definition of domestic violence was substantially broadened, and concessions made on the evidence that will be required to prove domestic violence has occured, as well as the time limit within which this is applicable.
– Legal aid was retained for welfare benefit appeals to the second tier tribunal and higher courts, and for the first tier tribunal on ‘points of law’ only. The details will be worked out in a statutory instrument.
– Government will now be able to add as well as remove areas of law from the scope of legal aid without primary legislation.
– Victims of trafficking will still be entitled to legal aid
– Legal aid will remain available for clinical negligence cases, but only when the negligence occured during the first 8 weeks of life.
– The Director of Legal Aid Casework will be independent from Government.
– Legal aid will still be available in police stations.