Legal-aid bill assessment shake up in the UK paused by Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom has shelved plans to stop legal-aid bills from being court assessed and bring them inhouse. Under the current system legal-aid practitioners can choose to have bills between £2,500 and £25,000 assessed by the courts or the Legal Aid Agency. Under the new scheme the Ministry of Justice wanted to bring this process in-house. However, after consultation on the matter the Government has paused these plans until 2022, when they will revisit the issue as part of a consultation on a longer-term proposition.

Concerns were raised about the suitability of Legal Aid Agency staff to assess bills given their level of expertise, when previously these matters were dealt with by experienced costs judges. The Government is still intent on reforming the current hybrid system and stream lining the process.

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