We said yesterday that the new legal aid scheme had not got off to a good start. Today two new sets of Regulations have been published, amending the Regs governing financial eligibility for individuals and legal persons respectively, because the original versions had an incomplete list of proceedings that were not subject to the means test. Cases concerning international recovery of child support were omitted. The new Regs have been added to the list on the LASPO Resources page.
Meanwhile, the new civil application forms require you to certify that you have given your client the Legal Aid Agency leaflet “Paying for your Legal Aid” and your client to certify that they have received it. However, that leaflet is not on the LAA website (and the old LSC version appears to have been removed, though you can still access it via the archived LSC website here)
The public-facing “Legal Aid Checker” allowing the public to check whether their legal aid problem is in scope and to find a provider does not work – it simply lists every provider in a location whether or not they provide the particular area of law, and therefore does not help the public contact a relevant organisation. And in out of scope areas it rather optimistically suggests that free legal advice will be available from CABx and Law Centres.
Yesterday evening, the chief executive of the LAA, Matthew Coates, issued a statement to mark the transition from the LSC to the LAA. He said:
I’m conscious that transition is likely to have prompted questions around how the changes will impact on you and your clients. My view is that you won’t experience much of a difference.
The purpose of the LAA is to ‘Deliver legal aid efficiently and effectively as part of the justice system’.
This is a statement which is new, but a principle that has long underpinned the work of the LSC that preceded it.
Practitioners might have their own views about that.