More High Court Challenges to the legal aid cuts

This week a further two legal challenges have been made to the forthcoming cuts to legal aid. The first, relating to the cuts to civil legal aid, was lodged by the Disability Law Service (DLS). DLS assert that the decision to scrap legal aid for advice on welfare benefits is so irrational as to be unlawful and that the consultation which preceded the decision was in itself unlawful.

DLS say:

“By removing Welfare Benefits from Legal Aid those individuals, who are the poorest and most vulnerable in society, will have little or no means by which to challenge unfair decisions and no recourse to get advice into what is one of the most convoluted and complex areas of law.”

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The second legal challenge, relating to the cuts to criminal legal aid, has been bought by the Law Society. The challenge relates to the Government’s decision to abolish the committal fee in legally aided criminal proceedings for ‘either way’ cases.

According to the Law Society:

“The decision would remove all remuneration for legal representation in a significant number of cases, leaving many defendants without representation in the crucial early stages of their case. The Law Society anticipates that the measure will have a particular impact on people with mental health problems and non-English speakers.”

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1. The removal of welfare benefits from the scope of legal aid is a measure contained within the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. The Bill is currently making its way through Parliament and is available here –

2. The abolition of the committal fee is one of the changes contained within the Criminal Defence Service (Funding) (Amendment) Order 2011 which came into force on the 3rd October 2011. The Order can be found here –