Criminal Legal Aid Review: An accelerated package of measures amending the criminal legal aid fee schemes

Closed 17 Jun 2020

Opened 28 Feb 2020


This consultation was extended on 27 March until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the consultation will now close on Wednesday 17 June.


Criminal defence practitioners play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law. As a former criminal barrister, I greatly value the huge contribution the criminal defence profession makes to our society. I understand the pressures you are under and the need to ensure that you are paid fairly for the work you do.   

At the beginning of 2019, the Ministry of Justice began a comprehensive review of criminal legal aid fee schemes. Our approach has been to listen carefully to the views and concerns of the criminal defence profession and gather evidence to make sure the proposals we make are based in fact and real experience. In light of some pressing concerns identified early in the review, we took the decision to fast-track certain areas of the review:  

  • how litigators and advocates are paid for work on unused material  
  • how advocates are paid for work on paper heavy cases    
  • how advocates are paid for cracked trials in the Crown Court
  • how litigators are paid for work on sending cases to the Crown Court

We are also developing a proposal regarding remuneration of the defence for engagement with the prosecution at the pre-charge stage, in light of new guidelines on pre-charge engagement from the Attorney General. These are currently subject to a public consultation and publication is expected in Spring 2020. Following this, we will proceed at pace to consult separately on our proposal at the earliest opportunity.

The Criminal Legal Aid Review team have been working hard, listening to the experiences of criminal defence practitioners across the country. I am confident that the proposals delivered in this consultation document offer a fair settlement to the defence profession on these particular issues. To that end, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who have offered their support providing useful evidence and sharing their views. 

However, the issues addressed in this consultation are just one part of the criminal legal aid system and I recognise that there is much more for us to do. These discrete areas represent a first step towards the fuller Criminal Legal Aid Review which will focus on the structural reform of the whole criminal legal aid system to improve its transparency, efficiency and outcomes.

I am committed to making sure that our review places the criminal legal aid market on a more sustainable long-term footing to ensure we deliver an effective Criminal Justice System that works for you as a profession and for those people who need access to legal aid-funded practitioners. I look forward to continuing to work with you as the review progresses and appreciate your ongoing participation and support throughout the rest of the review. 


The Rt. Hon. Robert Buckland QC MP

Lord Chancellor


  • Government departments
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Court & Tribunal staff
  • Academics
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary


  • Courts
  • Criminal justice
  • Law
  • Judiciary