Access to justice, including fair trials – Government action
UK Government actions
- In August 2021, the UK Government responded to a consultation on increasing selected court fees.
- In July 2021, the UK Government introduced the Judicial Review and Courts Bill, following a consultation on changes to the law and procedure for judicial review.
- In April 2021, the Domestic Abuse Act received royal assent. It includes provisions to improve protection of domestic abuse victims from direct in-person cross-examination by alleged abusers in family and civil cases.
- In April 2021, the Victims’ Code came into force and the UK Government committed to bring forward a Victims’ Law to ensure victims of crime get better support from the police, courts and other agencies.
- In March 2021, the UK Government published the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which proposes changes to how courts operate.
- In January 2021, HM Courts and Tribunals Service published a vulnerability action plan to enable people in situations of vulnerability to access the justice system during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- In December 2020, the UK Government launched an independent review into the long-term sustainability of the criminal legal aid market.
- In November 2020, the UK Government made pre-recorded cross-examination available in every crown court.
- In July 2020, HM Courts and Tribunals Service published a recovery plan to maintain the operation of the justice system during the COVID-19 pandemic. This included opening temporary ‘Nightingale courts’ to increase capacity and a ‘super courtroom’ to hear complex cases.
- In July 2020, the Sentencing Council published guidance for judges on sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders or neurological impairments.
- In May 2020, the UK Government provided £5.4 million to not-for-profit providers of specialist legal advice, through the COVID-19 Specialist Advice Services Scheme grant. An additional £2 million was announced in July 2021 to provide legal help through the Community Justice Fund to people who have lost their job, been caught in rent arrears, or are in debt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In May 2020, the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 introduced changes to the evidence requirements to qualify for legal aid in domestic abuse cases, and withdrew the mandatory telephone gateway to access civil legal advice in education, discrimination and debt cases.
- In October 2019, the UK Government amended the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 to bring non-asylum immigration and citizenship matters into the scope of legal aid for under-18s who are not in the care of a parent, guardian or legal authority.
- In February 2019, the UK Government published a post-implementation review of LASPO alongside the Legal Support Action Plan, which committed to steps to improve access to legal aid and a review of the means test for legal aid.
- In November 2018, the UK Government published a courts reform programme and announced investment of £1 billion in the justice system. The reforms aim to increase digital working in the criminal courts, expand online dispute resolution services in civil, family and tribunal jurisdictions, and improve processes across jurisdictions.
- In July 2018, the UK Government made changes to exceptional case funding guidance to make it easier for families to apply for legal aid funding for inquest hearings.
- In 2017, the UK Government abolished fees for employees to bring employment tribunal claims, following a Supreme Court judgment that found the fee regime to be unlawfully preventing access to justice.
Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on access to justice, including fair trials.
This list is a summary of key actions and is not intended to be exhaustive.
The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 30/09/2021