First Special Report|
The Justice Committee published its Eighth Report
of Session 2008-09 on Family legal aid reform on Wednesday 15
July 2009 (HC 714).
Since then the Government has responded in a number
20 July 2009, Lord Bach, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State,
Ministry of Justice, and responsible for legal aid, announced
that he was deferring his decision on the way ahead for family
legal aid subject to further work.
On 14 September 2009, Lord Bach wrote
to the Committee saying thatwhile he felt it was right,
in principle, to proceed with a harmonised family advocacy schemeit
was important to ensure that the models, and underpinning assumptions,
were accurate and that the Legal Services Commission was working
with the legal professions on the detail and a good deal of progress
had been made in recognising and rewarding complexity within a
revised scheme (but that he intended no further public consultation).
On 13 October 2009, The Secretary of
State and Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, announced a review,
led by Sir Ian Magee, of the existing delivery and governance
arrangements of the legal aid system (including options for separating
the Criminal Defence Service and the Community Legal Service).
On 21 October 2009, Lord Bach announced
that more graduation had been introduced into the family legal
aid fee scheme structure to reward fairly those advocates undertaking
the more difficult and complicated cases and that independent
social work in private law cases would continue to be eligible
for legal aid funding. He described the reforms as a move of some
funding from barristers to solicitor advocates (as barristers
and solicitor advocates will now receive the same fees for the
same work) and as cost-neutral against average case costs in 2007-08.
Most recently, 29 November 2009, the Committee received
a further response from the Government in the form of a letter
from Lord Bach to the Chairman of the Committee which is appended
1 Written Ministerial Statement, 20 July 2009, Official
Report, col. WS 156 Back
Fifth Special Report, Justice Committee, Session 2008-09, HC 1018 Back
Written Ministerial Statement, 13 October 2009, Official Report,
col WS 23 Back
Written Ministerial Statement, 21 October 2009, Official Report,
col. WS 65 Back