The Government’s Review of Legal Aid for Inquests published on 7 February 2019 found that representation for bereaved families is not necessary at the vast majority of inquests because the process is designed to establish the truth and learn lessons and cannot apportion blame.
The Government realises, however, that there may be some instances where legal representation is required at inquests and funding may be available through the Exceptional Case Funding scheme (ECF). The decision to provide funding under ECF is taken by the Legal Aid Agency which makes its decisions independently from political and Government influence. The Government’s Legal Support Action Plan published on 7 February 2019 following the post implementation review of LASPO, includes a commitment to simplify the ECF scheme to ensure it works as effectively as possible for those who need it. We’re also making changes to ensure there is more support for bereaved families including making improvements to guidance and advice literature to improve understanding and awareness of the availability of legal aid for inquests.
The evidence that we gathered as part of our Review for Legal Aid for Inquests will also be considered as part of the Legal Aid Means Test Review, which is looking at the thresholds for legal aid entitlement and their interaction with the wider criteria. This comprehensive review is due to conclude in the summer of 2020, followed by a public consultation on potential policy changes.