The Criminal Defence Service Act 2006 received Royal Assent on 30 March 2006. It provides enabling powers to transfer responsibility for the grant of legal aid from the courts to the LSC, and to introduce a new means test for legal aid applicants.
The means test will be introduced for criminal proceedings in the magistrates' court on 2 October 2006. The purpose of the Hardship Review is to allow legal aid applicants who fail the means test but believe that they are genuinely unable to pay for their defence costs to have their circumstances reviewed on the basis of whether they have sufficient means to afford the costs of their case.
These proposals expand on the policy outlined in the 'Criminal Defence Service Bill: Supplement to the Framework Document' and the Criminal Defence Service Act Regulations published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA).
This consultation closes on 17 August 2006.
Queries and consultation responses should be sent to:
Legal Services Commission
85 Gray's Inn Road
DX 328 London/Chancery Lane
0207 759 0344