Access to justice, including fair trials – Government action

Government action

UK Government actions

  • In July 2020, HM Courts and Tribunals Service published a recovery plan to maintain the operation of the justice system during the coronavirus pandemic. A number of ‘Nightingale Courts’ were opened to increase the justice system’s capacity to address case backlogs.
  • In July 2020, the Sentencing Council for England and Wales published the first guidance for judges on sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders, or neurological impairments.
  • In June 2020, the UK Government announced changes to the operation of the family courts in England and Wales in respect of domestic abuse survivors, including preventing in-person cross examination of survivors by their abuser.
  • In May 2020, the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 introduced changes to the evidence requirements that must be satisfied to qualify for legal aid in domestic abuse cases, as well as withdrawing 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 a Legal Support Action Plan, which committed to a number of steps to improve access to legal aid, including reviewing the Exceptional Case Funding scheme and the financial eligibility thresholds for legal aid entitlement.
  • In November 2018, the UK Government published a Courts Reform Programme and announced investment of £1 billion in the justice system, following an earlier consultation on court and tribunal estate reform. The reforms aim to increase the use of digital working in the criminal courts; expand the availability of online dispute resolution services in civil, family and tribunals jurisdictions; and improve systems and processes across jurisdictions.
  • In July 2018, the UK Government made changes to the Exceptional Case Funding scheme guidance to make it easier for families to apply for legal aid funding for inquest hearings.

Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on access to justice, including fair trials.

The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 15/09/2020