Making legal aid fairer for taxpayers
PUBLISHED April 9, 2013
Plans to boost public confidence in the legal aid system and tackle towering bills have today been put out to consultation by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
The Transforming Legal Aid consultation comes as the Justice Secretary has said he will look at making criminals pay more of their costs, which could include paying back court bills and legal aid.
Criminal legal aid costs taxpayers more than £1 billion every year, so the Government is tackling areas which are destroying public confidence. This includes wealthy defendants receiving legal aid, prisoners getting legal aid for unnecessary issues and immigrants who have barely stepped over the border, or may be here illegally, getting civil legal aid.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
'We have an excellent tradition of legal aid and one of the best legal professions in the world. But we cannot close our eyes to the fact legal aid is still costing too much. It is not free money, it is paid for by hard-working taxpayers, so we must ensure we get the very best value for every penny spent.
'Some lawyers earn hundreds of thousands of pounds from just one or two cases, and these cases can themselves cost up to £15 million each. And we've all heard of wealthy criminals with stashed millions getting legal aid to pay for their defence or of prisoners given legal aid unnecessarily.
'I am clear we will continue to uphold everyone's right to a fair trial but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look again at how the system which provides this is operated.'