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Since 2013, the provision of legal aid in England and Wales has been governed by Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 – commonly referred to as LASPO – and by an array of supporting secondary legislation.  

Part 1 of LASPO replaced the Access to Justice Act 1999 as the statutory framework for legal aid and made major changes to the scope of legal aid, the eligibility requirements for individuals applying for legal aid, and the level of remuneration payable to lawyers undertaking legally aided work.

Regulations under LASPO made four changes to the eligibility criteria for civil and family legal aid, including applying a capital eligibility test to all legal aid applicants; increasing income contributions for contributory clients; and, removing legal aid in cases with ‘borderline’ prospects of success.

LASPO made a number of changes to criminal legal aid, principally concerning the fees paid to solicitors and barristers, but also some changes to eligibility criteria and the provision of legal aid to prisoners.

In 2018 the Government launched a post-implementation review of Part 1 of LASPO. The review reported in 2019 and the Government published its Legal Support Action Plan – Legal Support: the way ahead –  at the same time, setting out its response to the review.

In 2021 an independent review of criminal legal aid was conducted by Sir Christopher Bellamy. The report of the review was published in December 2021.  

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