To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department made of the potential effect on access to justice for victims of trafficking prior to the introduction of the legal aid fixed fee for asylum and immigration legal aid work.
The Lord Chancellor is committed to ensuring that everyone can access justice and has a statutory duty as set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012) to ensure that legal aid funding is available for the civil legal services set out in Schedule 1 of LASPO 2012.
The legal aid fee scheme for asylum and immigration work is payable for all immigration and asylum matters that are in scope of LASPO, and the new fixed fees for immigration and asylum appeals apply to all legally-aided appeals before the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).
These new, temporary fees were introduced as part of our swift response to the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the tribunal system could continue to function and vulnerable clients could still access justice. As such our consideration on access to justice was based on the immigration and asylum system as a whole rather than individual appellants or appeal types. The Lord Chancellor has already committed to a formal consultation before any permanent fee is set.