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The Commons is due to consider Lords Amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill on Tuesday 17 April 2012. This note draws attention to the principal changes, additions and deletions that were made in the Lords.

There were a number of Government defeats in the Lords on legal aid. These included defeats on children’s and welfare benefit appellants’ entitlement to legal aid and on funding for expert reports in clinical negligence cases. Other defeats covered the single telephone gateway; the independence of the director of legal aid casework; and the wording of the Lord Chancellor’s duty to provide legal aid. There were Government amendments on legal aid in certain cases of clinical negligence and in certain judicial review cases. Another would provide the power to add to the Bill’s list of legal aid services. Other Government amendments would remove the power to means test advice at the police station from the Bill. Several amendments covered legal aid in domestic abuse cases, including changes to the Bill’s definition of domestic violence.

There were also Government defeats which would result in exceptions from the Bill’s provisions on civil litigation funding for respiratory disease cases and for other industrial diseases cases resulting from an employer’s breach of duty. Other amendments on civil litigation funding covered pro bono representation at the Supreme Court and changes to the scope of rules against referral fees.

A Government new clause would bring in aggravated sentences for transgender hate crime, and a higher starting point for murders motivated by a victim’s disability or transgender status. A further Government new clause would give courts powers to impose a new alcohol abstinence and monitoring requirement on those convicted of alcohol-related offences. Other Government amendments would introduce new powers to deal with metal theft and would reduce the period of time for which ex-offenders would have to declare convictions.

The consolidated Lords amendments to the Bill are available as Bill 327 of 2010-12. The Ministry of Justice has published further Explanatory Notes.

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