To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effect of trends in the number of duty solicitors in Wales on access to justice in that country.
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) frequently reviews market capacity, including the number of duty solicitors on each local duty scheme, to make sure there is adequate provision of legal aid throughout England and Wales. The LAA moves quickly, where issues arise, to secure additional provision and to ensure continuity of legal aid services.
The LAA is satisfied that there continues to be sufficient duty solicitor coverage across all duty schemes in Wales. Provision under the duty scheme is demand led and so there may be variations in numbers across each local rota or other fluctuations in numbers depending on prevailing market conditions.
A procurement exercise for new criminal legal aid contracts commencing on 1 October 2022 is currently underway. The LAA will publish lists of providers and duty solicitors under those contracts once the contract has commenced.