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.
- 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.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award