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Westminster Commission

The Westminster Commission on Legal Aid:

1. held the following oral evidence sessions:

  • criminal legal aid;

  • family legal aid;

  • civil (non-family) legal aid;

  • the publicly funded bar;

  • access to justice; and

  • the future of the legal aid workforce (experiences of junior practitioners); and

2. carried out extensive desk-based research, and further engagement with expert practitioners, to provide context to and a broader exploration of the issues and concerns raised by witnesses at the oral evidence sessions.


Over the course of the Inquiry it was found that:

  • There has been a continued and gradual decline in access to justice with increasing numbers of people across England and Wales unable to access legal advice when they need it.

  • It seems likely that this need will increase as we emerge from the pandemic, rebuild our communities and ‘level up’.

  • This decline in access to justice has a number of causes including the areas of law taken out of the scope of legal aid, firms and organisations leaving legal aid and difficulties recruiting and retaining lawyers in civil and criminal legal aid.


Overall, the Westminster Comission found that the service being provided to the public is not sufficient and the legal aid profession as it stands is not sustainable.


To improve the sustainability and sufficiency of the legal aid sector, we have made specific recommendations for government in relation to:

  • Legal aid fees

  • Recruitment and retention

  • Broadening the scope of legal aid and meeting legal need

  • Exceptional case funding

  • Means testing


You can find the report on your right.


To read the press release, please click here.


To read the recommendations, please click here.


For more information, contact: Rohini Jana on

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