New review into the delivery of legal aid

Senior civil servant Sir Ian Magee is to lead a review into proposals to separate the Criminal Defence Service (“CDS”) and Community Legal Service (“CLS”), as part of a review to ensure that the £2.1 billion currently spent on legal aid every year is “delivering best value for money”.

He will explore the available options for separation, including ring fencing both CDS and CLS budgets, look at ways to manage the finances of both funds, and identify appropriate delivery models for both the CDS and CLS and their relationship with the MoJ.
Sir Ian, who is due to report back in January 2010, said: “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.”

Legal aid minister Lord Bach has previously called for the civil and criminal legal aid budget to be “rebalanced” in favour of civil legal aid. He said: “It is 10 years since the Legal Services Commission was established and in that time there has been considerable changes in the type of legal advice and services that the public needs.

“I believe now is the right time to review the channels through which legal aid is delivered to ensure that we are getting the best value for taxpayers’ money. It’s also a good time re-examine the best ways to deliver this vital service to ensure a healthy future for legal aid.”