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Legal aid Bill receives royal assent

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 received Royal Assent today.

  • The legislation will remove £350m from the £2.2bn legal aid budget by removing entire areas of law from the scope of legal aid – including most areas of social welfare law.
  • You can download the Act HERE.
  • You can read Jon Robins on LASPO and the impact of the access to justice campaign HERE.

According to the Ministry of Justice, it introduces a wide range of reforms to the justice system as well as delivering structural reforms to the administration of legal aid.

The Act:

  • Ensures that legal aid is available for those who require formal legal advice and assistance and provides access to a range of alternative sources of dispute resolution in appropriate  cases
  • Increases mediation funding to £25 million a year and provide an additional £20 million a year for the next three years for third sector advice and assistance organisations
  • Reforms civil litigation procedures by dealing with disproportionate legal costs, and by capping the amount that lawyers can take in success fees
  • Makes referral fees illegal in personal injury cases
  • Makes it an offence to threaten people with a knife in public and at schools, with offenders receiving a minimum prison sentence (6 months for adults and a 4 months Detention Training Order for 16 and 17 year olds)
  • Makes prisoners work harder, longer and on meaningful tasks, earning money for victims
  • Makes it a crime to squat in people’s homes
  • Creates a new offence to appropriately punish drivers who seriously injure others by driving dangerously.

The Act also contains a number of new measures to protect the public and reduce reoffending including:

  • Creating a new youth remand and sentencing structure, which gives more flexibility to courts to decide on appropriate disposals
  • Creating tougher community sentences with longer curfews for offenders
  • Giving prosecutors the right to appeal against bail decisions when they think the defendant could be dangerous, or might flee the country
  • Reforming the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society after their sentences.
  • Creating a tough new sentencing regime to replace the inconsistent Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence.
  • Doubling to 30 years the starting point for sentences for murders motivated by hate on grounds of disability or transgender – in line with other hate crime murders.
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