Civil legal aid was introduced by the Legal Aid Act 1949 and extended thereafter to cover legal advice (later renamed as ‘legal help’). Traditionally, the major area of expenditure was on family law which cost around a half of all civil legal aid. This was extended to cover mediation. Other significant areas of expenditure were immigration and asylum, mental health and ‘social welfare’ law (often called poverty law in North America) – the type of legal cases faced by poor people, such as debt, housing, employment etc.
The coalition government proposed major cuts to the scope of civil legal aid in a consultation published in November 2010. We have written about, lobbied on, and responded directly to, the consultation and are engaged in a major debate as to the future of civil legal aid.
See our response to the Legal Aid Green Paper