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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Civil legal aid

19.Part 1 of the Act defines civil legal services as encompassing advice, assistance and representation by legal professionals and also the services of non-legal professionals, including for example mediation and other forms of dispute resolution.

20.Part 1 of Schedule 1 describes the civil legal services that can generally be made available under the arrangements for civil legal aid.

21.The Act also provides the Director with the power to require civil legal services not mentioned in Schedule 1 to be made available, either where the Director considers that it is necessary to make the services available because the failure to provide legal services to an individual would be a breach of the individual’s Convention rights (within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998), or any rights of the individual to the provision of legal services that are enforceable EU rights, or where the Director considers that it is appropriate to make services available, in the particular circumstances of the case, having regard to any risk that failure to do so would result in a breach of such rights.

22.The Act requires the Director to determine whether an individual qualifies for civil legal services by reference to their financial resources and the criteria set out in regulations prepared by the Lord Chancellor. The Act lists the factors which the Lord Chancellor must consider in setting those criteria. They are similar to the factors that the LSC is currently required to consider when setting the Funding Code criteria (see section 8(2) of the Access to Justice Act 1999).

23.The Act also provides the Lord Chancellor with a power to make regulations about the making and withdrawal of determinations by the Director about civil legal aid, including regulations about the means by which an application for legal aid must be made. The regulations must make provision about the review of determinations and may make provision about appeals against determinations.

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