The Law Society has welcomed the delay in implementation of new rules governing civil and family legal aid, announced today by the Ministry of Justice. The announcement was made in a written statement to Parliament and moves the implementation date from the originally proposed October 2012 to April 2013. This allows time for the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to tender under the new rules, which are currently being debated in Parliament as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society said:
'We have repeatedly warned that implementation of the proposed changes to legal aid scope and provision by October 2012 was impractical. The Government has taken a sensible decision to defer this deadline. The new timetable is still challenging, given the work required to implement changes of this magnitude.
Like other small businesses, law firms need reasonable notice of changes affecting them. This announcement is a welcome recognition of that need. But even given a more workable implementation timetable, solicitors and their clients who rely upon legal aid to secure justice are not well served by the poorly-evidenced and ill-conceived measures in the Bill. The Bill will not deliver the claimed financial savings and risks denying access to justice to all but the well-off. This delay to the implementation schedule offers a window of opportunity to work with stakeholders in improving the Bill.”