UK legal aid reforms tempered

September 9, 2013 UK Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced that he will not proceed with the plan to introduce competitive tendering for criminal legal aid contracts.

The plan - under which the government would award contracts to the lowest bidder - was set to cause the number of criminal legal aid firms to drop from from 1,600 to 400.

With the new announcement, Mr Grayling has agreed that an “unlimited” number of law firms will be allowed to continue to provide legal aid work, so long as they meet quality standards. Criminal suspects will remain able to choose their solicitor.

The reform aims to save £220 million by 2018, cutting fees for criminal legal aid by 17.5 per cent, removing legal aid for prisoners, introducing a means test excluding defendants with more than £37,500 annual disposable income and limiting access to UK residents.

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