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Government consults on criminal law legal aid changes

The government has commenced its consultation paper on the legal aid scheme  entitled "Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system". The majority of the consultation paper is dedicated to proposals to reform the current system for delivering criminal legal aid. Under the proposals, the Government intends to invite a price competition tender for the supply of all criminal litigation services other than Crown Court advocacy and Very High Cost Criminal cases. It proposes that the current supplier base is reduced from the current 1600 firms to around 400. Defendants with an income of more than £37,500 will no longer qualify for legal aid in the Crown Court but may be able to recover defence costs at legal aid rates. Those defendants whose assets are subject of a Restraint Order will be able to use restrained assets to fund legal aid contributions only and not to fund their defence privately.


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