Civil Proceedings: Legal Opinion

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 3 July 2023.

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Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he is taking steps to ensure that early legal advice is given to parties in more civil matters.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We are taking several steps to ensure that early legal advice is given to more parties in civil matters. These include:

  • On 25 May 2023, the Ministry of Justice published the Government’s response to the Legal Aid Means Test Review. The measures announced include the decision to remove the means test for legal help for inquests where the case relates to a potential breach of ECHR obligations or raises a wider significant public interest. This will remove the burden on families of having to provide financial information in difficult circumstances and will help ensure that legal support is available for bereaved families at the earlier, investigative stage of an inquest
  • From 1 August 2023, under the new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service, anyone facing eviction or repossession will be able to receive free early legal advice on housing, debt, and welfare benefits issues before appearing in court, as well as continuing to get advice and representation on the day of their hearing. This move follows a two-month consultation into the reform of housing legal aid, part of our wider civil legal aid strategy to improve the breadth and quality of advice available for those who need it.
  • We have recently laid a statutory instrument to expand the family legal aid scheme to bring Special Guardianship Orders in private family proceedings into the scope of legal aid.
  • The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking a Review of Civil Legal Aid, to identify evidence-based options for moving to a more effective, efficient, and sustainable system for legal aid providers and the people who rely on legal aid. The Review will consider the civil legal aid system in its entirety: how services are procured, how well the current system works for users, how civil legal aid impacts the wider justice system, and whether the civil legal aid system offers a financially viable business option for legal aid providers. The Review will publish its interim findings in March 2024.

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