The Ministry of Justice has today announced a review into the delivery of legal aid to ensure the £2bn budget is spent correctly.
Legal aid minister Lord Bach has asked Sir Ian Magee, a former permanent secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, to assess the delivery and governance arrangements of the legal aid system and to make recommendations for change.
Magee will explore the separation of the civil and criminal funds and identify the most appropriate models for their delivery, as well as look at how best to provide effective ministerial accountability and policy direction.
Bach said: ‘It is 10 years since the Legal Services Commission was established. In that time there has been considerable change in the type of legal advice and services that the public needs.
‘I believe the time is right to review the channels through which legal aid is delivered to ensure that we are getting the best value for the taxpayers’ money. It is also a good time to re-examine the best ways to deliver this vital service to ensure a healthy future for legal aid.’
Magee said: 'I am pleased that I have been asked to review the delivery of this key public service and to make recommendations on its structure and governance.
‘Naturally I will be consulting a range of interested parties including the judiciary, the legal profession and the relevant public bodies who play a part in the delivery of legal aid.’
He will report back to the government in January. In the meantime, he said, if anyone wants to submit their observations to him, they should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law Society president Bob Heslett commented: 'We look forward to meeting Sir Ian and engaging with his work. There are significant problems with the current legal aid system, which needs an urgent review and we welcome the decision to take that forward. The review needs to be about the long-term strategy for legal aid services. The system too often ignores the importance of a stable supplier base, which has reduced over years, as has access to justice .The Law Society is pursuing a review of access to justice which, in engaging with other stakeholders, will inform and assist the determination of the future of legal aid provision. Our review will be looking at many of these issues and we hope that our emerging ideas will be of assistance to Sir Ian.'