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Practitioners await criminal legal aid review findings

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(15 December 2021)

Three years after the government announced plans to embark on a wider review of criminal legal aid payments, the findings of the judge-led investigation are expected to be published today. However, practitioners will reportedly have to wait until the new year to see how the government responds.

According to today’s House of Commons order paper, lord chancellor Dominic Raab will make a written statement with a ‘justice update’ – which is widely expected to be the final report of the independent criminal legal aid review, led by Sir Christopher Bellamy QC.

The government had promised to publish its response to the review by the end of the year. However, the all-party parliamentary group on legal aid understands the response, along with a consultation, will not be published until after the new year.

The review had two main objectives – to reform the fee schemes so they fairly reflect, and pay for, work done, and support the sustainability of the market, and reform the wider criminal legal aid market to respond flexibly to changes in the wider system and encourage a diverse workforce.

Earlier this year, Sir Christopher told the Westminster Commission on Legal Aid’s inquiry that practitioners were caught in a ‘double pincer movement’ in terms of a real-terms reduction in money and reduction in work driven by fewer arrests.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)