The Legal Services Board (LSB) has responded to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) post-implementation reviewof the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
Many of the LSB’s research studies provide evidence that is relevant to assessing the impact of the changes to legal aid that were part of the LASPO reforms. Our submission highlights this evidence. We hope that, alongside the evidence of other stakeholders, our submission can assist the MoJ’s review to deliver outcomes that promote access to justice.
Dr Helen Phillips, Chair of the Legal Services Board said:
“I am pleased that we have this opportunity to contribute to the post-implementation review of LASPO. Our response contributes our evidence base to this first review of changes to the provision of legal aid in England and Wales.
What we say is evidenced by our in-depth research into the legal services market. Our research shows that, in recent years, a growing proportion of individuals are handling their legal problems alone and that a declining proportion are seeking advice1.
Actual or perceived costs have come to the fore as a key factor in determining what action people take when faced with a legal problem2.
It has become clear that individuals whose finances are stretched, but not severely enough to qualify for legal aid, are the least likely to use a lawyer3. Reductions in legal aid carry the risk of increasing the number of these ‘stretched consumers’.
We think it is important to look at what has happened to consumers who are no longer able to access legal aid following the reforms. Research suggests that changes in legal aid may have disproportionately affected certain groups of people such as particular ethnic groups and those from the C2DE social groups4. We are also concerned about whether the reforms may have had knock-on effects elsewhere in the justice system and also more broadly in other areas of public spending such as health5.”
1 Paragraph B.1.17, Evaluation: Changes in the legal services market 2006/7-2014/15. An analysis of market outcomes associated with the delivery of the regulatory objectives, Legal Services Board (2016)
2 Ibid paragraph B.1. 28, referring to How People Resolve Legal Problems, Pleasence and Balmer, (2014)
3 Ibid paragraph 2.18 referring to Figure 1.2, How People Resolve Legal Problems, Pleasence and Balmer, (2014)
4 Tracker Survey, Legal Services Consumer Panel
5 Analysis of the potential effects of early legal advice/intervention, Ipsos MORI research on behalf of the Law Society, November 2017
For further information, please contact the LSB’s Communications Manager, Vincent McGovern (020 7271 0068).
Notes for editors:
- The Legal Service Board’s written submission to the Ministry of Justice’s post-implementation review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) can be found here.
- The regulatory objectives that the LSB believes are most relevant in the context of legal aid are:
- protecting and promoting the public interest
- supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law
- improving access to justice
- protecting and promoting the interests of consumers, and
- increasing public understanding of the citizen’s legal rights and duties
- All of the LSB’s research can be found at our research website: research.legalserviceboard.org.uk.
- The Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
- The LSB oversees ten approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is an approved regulator for probate activities only but does not currently authorise anyone to offer this service.
- As at 1 April 2017, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 148,690 solicitors, 15,281 barristers, 6,809 chartered legal executives and 5,958 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The UK legal sector turnover was £31 billion per annum (2016) which is up 19% in cash terms since 2012. For more information see here.