It has been two weeks since the legal aid provisions of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) came into force on 1 April 2013. More of a whimper than a bang on an inauspicious day.
Will LASPO achieve its objectives: to reduce the legal aid bill and reduce the number of claimants who use court as a first resort. The first aim is likely to be achieved given the limited categories of cases that will now be funded and therefore the fewer people that will be entitled to legal aid. However at what impact to the legal system? Judges are likely to be faced with increasing numbers of litigants in person. Those are people who are not necessarily familiar with the legal process. Is it just for the legally represented side to bear the additional preparation costs, the costs of potentially longer hearings? How can the court itself ensure that the cases are dealt with justly and proportionately unless an extra burden is placed on the side with legal representation? At this stage all I can say is – wait and see. The General Council of the Bar have produced a guide to explain and demystify the court process. The guide is available online at: