Government research on the impact of its reforms on civil legal aid are expected to be published by the end of the year, the Ministry of Justice has revealed.
Details of the projects were outlined in a response to the justice select committee’s request for further information following its evidence session on the ministry’s 2014/15 annual reports and accounts.
Richard Heaton, permanent secretary for the ministry, said it had carried out three research projects to assess the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which came into force in April 2013, on aspects of civil legal aid.
Varying Paths to Justice, a ‘large-scale qualitative’ research project examining how people seek to resolve civil, administrative and family justice problems, and the influences that shape their decision-making, was ‘currently being finalised’, Heaton said.
The Survey of Not-for-Profit Legal Advice Providers in England and Wales will ‘provide an indication’ of how advice providers in the sector have been affected by legal aid ‘and other’ reforms.
The survey findings were going through ‘final quality assurance and internal sign-off processes’, Heaton said.
Initial findings from The Legal Problem Resolution Survey on the prevalence of civil justice problems in England and Wales will be published in ‘early 2016’.
Responding to a question on the annual costs of running court buildings that remained unsold from a previous round of court closures, Heaton said 10 courts under the previous Court Estate Reform Programme remained unsold.
The 10 buildings are Alton, Cirencester, Coleford, Keighley, Lyndhurst, Oswestry, Pontefract, Stourbridge, Totnes and Towcester magistrates’ courts.
Heaton said three were currently ‘under offer’ with ‘negotiations underway’ on three others.
There were ‘active discussions’ with the Home and Communities Agency, which helps to dispose of surplus property that meets certain criteria.