The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 received Royal Assent today.
- The legislation will remove £350m from the £2.2bn legal aid budget by removing entire areas of law from the scope of legal aid – including most areas of social welfare law.
- You can download the Act HERE.
- You can read Jon Robins on LASPO and the impact of the access to justice campaign HERE.
According to the Ministry of Justice, it introduces a wide range of reforms to the justice system as well as delivering structural reforms to the administration of legal aid.
- Ensures that legal aid is available for those who require formal legal advice and assistance and provides access to a range of alternative sources of dispute resolution in appropriate cases
- Increases mediation funding to £25 million a year and provide an additional £20 million a year for the next three years for third sector advice and assistance organisations
- Reforms civil litigation procedures by dealing with disproportionate legal costs, and by capping the amount that lawyers can take in success fees
- Makes referral fees illegal in personal injury cases
- Makes it an offence to threaten people with a knife in public and at schools, with offenders receiving a minimum prison sentence (6 months for adults and a 4 months Detention Training Order for 16 and 17 year olds)
- Makes prisoners work harder, longer and on meaningful tasks, earning money for victims
- Makes it a crime to squat in people’s homes
- Creates a new offence to appropriately punish drivers who seriously injure others by driving dangerously.
The Act also contains a number of new measures to protect the public and reduce reoffending including:
- Creating a new youth remand and sentencing structure, which gives more flexibility to courts to decide on appropriate disposals
- Creating tougher community sentences with longer curfews for offenders
- Giving prosecutors the right to appeal against bail decisions when they think the defendant could be dangerous, or might flee the country
- Reforming the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society after their sentences.
- Creating a tough new sentencing regime to replace the inconsistent Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence.
- Doubling to 30 years the starting point for sentences for murders motivated by hate on grounds of disability or transgender – in line with other hate crime murders.