Politicians will discuss the future of legal aid, in a debate to be held at Westminster on Thursday, 1st November. The general debate was approved by the Backbench Business Committee and will be hosted by Andy Slaughter MP and Alistair Carmichael MP.
Legal aid cuts have been an ongoing source of concern for the family justice system, which saw a drastic reduction in the availability of the support service after the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). The legislation made it increasingly difficult for families to access legal support, which led to The Public Law Project mounting a legal challenge over its restrictions to legal aid for domestic abuse survivors. The government was eventually forced to back down on several clauses within LASPO, and extend the list of documents victims of domestic violence had to produce in order to qualify for legal aid.
In 2017, the Ministry of Justice also scrapped the five year time limit for producing evidence of domestic violence, and in October of this year, a judicial review ordered the government to amend the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012, so that legal aid certificates could be backdated. The change allowed lawyers to continue representing clients while waiting for legal aid certificates to be processed.
This week’s debate will be held in the Grand Committee Room at Westminster Hall. Further details should be released within the next 48 hours, so we will update you as soon as we have them. Members of the public are able to attend this event, but for those who can’t attend, the debate can be watched live on Parliament TV. A complete transcript will also be available three hours after the debate on Commons Hansard.