Government to invoke controversial rule in bid to squash LASPO changes

Print This Post

By Legal Futures

17 April 2012


Parliament: final ping pong stage begins today

The government will today try and invoke a controversial parliamentary rule that will bypass efforts by peers to hold on to their amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO).

The bill begins the ‘ping pong’ stage today, during which the Commons and Lords have to agree on the exact wording of the bill. The Commons will begin by focusing on the 11 defeats that peers inflicted on the government.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed to Legal Futures that it will invite the House of Commons to invoke ‘financial privilege’ to overrule eight of the amendments.

The rules on financial privilege, used each year in relation to the Budget, mean the House of Lords is not allowed to change or reject tax and other financial proposals agreed by the Commons. The government used this tactic recently to push through its welfare reforms, to the anger of both Labour and peers who had spent weeks debating them.

The government is to accept amendments that ensure the independence of the new director of legal aid casework, retain legal aid for welfare benefit appeals on a point of law to the upper courts, and widen the definition of domestic violence for the purposes of legal aid eligibility.

Among the changes it will seek to overturn are retaining legal aid for children claiming clinical negligence, requiring that the new telephone gateway for legal aid is not compulsory, and excluding asbestos and industrial disease cases run under conditional fee agreements from the end of recoverability.

With campaigners making their last stand against the bill, a wide range of groups have spoken out against various aspects of the legal aid and Jackson reforms, including a coalition of 20 charities and legal organisations – such as Disability Rights UK, Mind, Shelter, Scope and Mumsnet – as well as Citizens Advice, the Children’s Society, and Amnesty International.

The JustRights coalition said figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act show that 6,000 (or 13%) of children who currently receive legal aid each year would no longer be eligible under the reforms.

 

Tags: , ,



Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

The rise of the multi-disciplinary lawyer: A challenge for legal education

Catrina Denvir

The legal profession has been on the receiving end of much hype regarding the impact of technology. Recent commentators purport that the aspiring lawyer must be a triple threat, possessing knowledge of the law, coding expertise, and in-depth knowledge of legal technology. Yet, focusing on legal technology risks overlooking the need for skills that transcend latest fads. Legal technology is a means by which to handle data: to organise it, record it, extract it, analyse it, predict from it and leverage it. Quantitative and statistical literacy – the ability to understand, apply, visualise and infer from data – underpins technological literacy and yet receives very little attention from those who encourage innovation in the legal curriculum.

May 26th, 2017