Belfast Telegraph

Ford outlines proposals to reduce civil legal aid spending by a further £14million

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

Justice Minister David Ford has published proposals aimed at reducing the cost of civil legal aid by a further £14million per year.

The proposals set out in the consultation document “Civil Legal Aid Remuneration” provide for a remuneration system which will introduce standard fees for civil legal aid cases heard at the magistrates’ court, County Court and High Court tiers. The proposals are a further step in a series of planned reforms to achieve an overall annual reduction of approximately £20million to the civil legal aid budget.

David Ford said: “Spending on civil legal aid needs to be reduced overall by approximately £20million annually and the proposals in this consultation mark a further step in my reform programme, and it is envisaged they will yield annual savings of approximately £14million.

“I have already taken action on criminal legal aid regarding remuneration fees, which resulted in a saving of approximately £20million annually, and it is therefore appropriate to consider introducing similar proposals to the area of civil legal aid.

“The introduction of a standardised fees system has three key benefits: it brings greater financial control to the cost of civil legal aid where governance could be enhanced; it enhances the capacity both in the Commission and the department to forecast civil legal aid expenditure in future years; and it reduces running costs for the legal profession and the Commission.”

Note to editors:

1. The Minister began his reforms of civil legal by consulting on the level of representation in the civil and family courts. There have also been consultations on removing money damages from the scope of legal aid and reducing the number of persons eligible to receive legal aid under the rules governing financial eligibility.

2. An annual reduction of £20million is required to bring spending on civil legal aid within budget and if fully implemented the proposals in this consultation could produce annual savings in excess of £14million per annum.

3. Download the consultation document from

We would welcome your views on the proposals in this consultation and we would invite you to send your comments, in whatever format you choose, to:

Public Legal Services Division
Access to Justice Directorate
Department of Justice
Massey House
Stormont Estate

Tel: 028 9016 9532
Text phone: 028 9052 7532
Fax: 028 9016 9502

Responses must be received by 16.00 on 22 November 2013.

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