Legal Aid

Legal aid 'economies' are a threat to justice – Letter from LAPG

PUBLISHED December 6, 2006

Sir, Carolyn Regan (letter, Dec 4) says the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has listened to the 2,300 responses to the legal aid consultation.

Yet the LSC?s analysis found ?almost all respondents? said that the introduction of fixed fees in the police station will undermine quality. On basic advice ?the majority . . . stated that the fees would impact upon the quality of advice received by the client, and equated low cost with low quality?. One question on the family law scheme achieved an astonishing 100 per cent disagreement from respondents, while throughout the document, the level of disagreement is regularly in excess of 75 per cent. 

Yet the LSC has merely ?adjusted the timing of the schemes as a result, and will now be moving ahead with our plans?. Where is the evidence of listening?

The LSC does not have different providers charging different amounts for ?the same work?. The LSC defines a half hour of benefit advice and a fully contested tribunal hearing as the same work. Suppliers currently charge different amounts because the cases need vastly different amounts of work. Practitioners believe fixed fees will harm the quality of service to clients.

Director, Legal Aid Practitioners Group