LASPO: The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 was aimed to bring about essential changes in the arrangements for procurement of easy access to justice and civil court case costs.
First, in the welfare reforms, the legal aid was introduced in 1949. It was presented as an effort to confirm that justice was accessible to all. However, in 2012, the coalition government declared LASPO, along with all the plans and reforms to transform the justice system. This act was predictable to benefit and save around £350 million per year. The cuts to legal aid reformed the eligibility criteria for those individuals who were eligible to legal support free, with modifications being made, both regarding the cases being eligible for the support and the financial threshold.
Now it is only when some serious consequences are approaching that individuals will be eligible for the aid and support. It means if an individual encounters prison custody, if an individual’s family or he himself is at risk of serious harm or abuse, or it is any case which comes under criteria of the Human Rights Act.
This act covers an extensive range of issues, that includes making easy provisions on legal aid and dealing with the process and litigation costs and funding, along with the punishment and sentencing of offenders. LASPO forms a central part in the Government’s Transforming Legal Aid Agenda. Though it was too early to regulate its impacts on longer-term.
The early researches recommend that so much has come to pass, what we feared about, including:
- A noteworthy increase in complainants, especially in family courts.
- The increasing delays and pending in court procedures and extra burdens of resources on the already-stretched court.
- Likely unjustifiable and increase pressure on frontline providers delivering individuals with free legal advice, support, or representation.
- A rising reluctance of barristers and solicitors to take on low-value, complex litigation, disagreeing too many accesses to legal representation and advice.
- An increasing number of barristers vigorously considering the practicality of an enduring career at the Bar.
Hence the LASPO Act efforts to reduce the expenses on legal aid by limiting and controlling the categories of case where it will be accessible. Although the individuals who are already facing criminal charges will be still eligible, focusing on financial charge, there are some restrictions to legal aid in certain types of family matters or civil matters, i.e., the cases of some child abduction, or instances of domestic violence or the case where parents are arguing contract provisions with their children.
It is an Act to make easy provision about legal aid,
- To make additional provision about backing the legal services.
- To make provision about expenses and other amounts awarded in criminal and civil proceedings.
- To make easy provision about referral fees in association with the facility of legal services.
- To make provision about punishing and sentencing offenders, plus provision about bails and release on the license or otherwise.
- To make provision about the collecting fines, challans and other sums.
- To make provision about remands and bails otherwise related procedures.
- To make provision about the payment, employment and transfer of individuals inside prisons and other institutes.
- To make provision about notices of penalty for disorderly behaviours and attentions.
- To make provision about the therapy and rehabilitation of offenders.
- To produce new offences and crimes of hostile with a weapon in school premises or in public and of triggering serious injuries by dangerous and unsafe driving.
- To generate a new crime involving squatting.
- To raise the penalties for crimes relating to row metal dealing and producing a new offence regarding payment procedures for scrap metal.
- To revise section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.
What were of the objectives of LASPO and what impact it has had on the justice system? The proposed LASPO impact to deliver better worth for money appears to have had the contrary effect, with the cases taking longer times than needed to collapse and resolve due to the rising pressure on Barristers and Solicitors.
More notably, the main motive of legal aid, that justice and equity be reachable to all individuals, seems long elapsed. Many of the most defenceless and helpless members of society are unable to access the support which they deliberately require and those who have to provide that support is deteriorating with every passing day. The LASPO review is urgently needed before the harm already done becomes too boundless to restore.