Legal Aid Income Threshold to Be Introduced


Frankfort, KY -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/23/2013 -- As competitive tendering is introduced and the legal aid bill is cut, defendants who have a high level of disposable income will no long have the right to apply for financial support for their legal costs. The cuts will reduce the current legal bill by at least £220 million over the course of the next five years, and in addition to this, competitive tendering will allow law firms to bid on contracts to represent people who are being accused of crimes. Grover Arnett profile followers were surprised when they read about the changes in the Ministry of Justice consultation paper.

Chris Grayling, the justice secretary has argued that these changes were absolutely necessary, in order to make the legal aid system more efficient. Grayling explained that whilst the UK has one of the best legal professions in the world, it would be impossible for legal aid to be provided at the current rate, as it is not simply ‘free money’ but rather, money provided by taxpayers. It would be unfair, he added, to allow wealthy criminals who can afford to pay for a solicitor, to have their defence given to them for nothing. Grayling finished by saying that whilst they will of course continue to ensure that everyone receives their right to a fair trial, changes must be made to the system.

An income threshold will be introduced for applicants for legal aid, although Grover Arnett psc readers say that this change should only affect approximately two hundred cases annually. Those who have a disposable income of over £37,500 per year (after household bills, food, mortgage and tax deductions) will no longer be eligible. As things stand, legal aid which is offered to defendants costs over one billion pounds annually – more than many other countries in the world - although the recently introduced Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act cut more than £320 million from the legal aid budget for civil court cases.

Clients of Grover Arnett law firm heard in news reports that further savings are to be made by refusing legal aid to prisoners who wish to make claims relating to how their correspondence is handled, or their category of jail. This is expected to save about four million pounds, and to affect roughly eleven thousand claims every year. However, prisoners will still be eligible for legal aid if they wish to object to the length of their sentence.

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