The impact of the LASPO on routes to justice

James Organ, Jennifer Sigafoos, Ben Crawford, Alexander Eaton, Maike Potschulat, Priya Sharma, Michelle Waite, Martin Whiteford

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) came into force in 2013. It had a dramatic impact on the provision of civil legal aid in
England and Wales, and has meant that legal aid is no longer available for a wide range of civil legal issues. This report examines how individuals who can no longer access legal aid have tried to resolve their legal problems, and how this has affected their access to justice and their personal lives. It focuses on family, employment and welfare benefits law.

As a result of LASPO, many individuals who would previously have been eligible for legal aid have been unable to gain legal assistance to pursue their cases in court or at a tribunal. Instead, they must now either pay for legal advice or representation themselves, try to find free support (usually from a charity such as Citizens Advice), or navigate their problem on their own. These alternative ‘routes to justice’ lead to difficulties for individuals in reaching a just resolution, and mean that if justice is achieved it is often delayed and at personal cost.

LASPO is one of several recent changes to the legal system in England and Wales that have affected individuals’ demand for and ability to access justice, and it should be considered in this context. Related policies include the introduction of employment tribunal fees, other increased court fees, and changes to judicial review, such as largely restricting legal aid payment to challenges that are successful. Also relevant are significant changes introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012, such as the transition from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments and the introduction of universal credit and the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’, which have increased the demand for legal advice services.

The project involved 131 semi-structured interviews in the Liverpool City Region, comprising 115 interviews with people who had legal issues and 16 interviews with advice providers and legal aid practitioners. The findings from the interviews are informed by analysis of national data and literature on the impact of LASPO on The impact of LASPO on routes to justice. All names used in this report have been changed to protect the identities of the interview participants. Further information about the methods is included in the Appendix.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEquality and Human Rights Commission
Number of pages63
ISBN (Print) 9781842067512
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • justice
  • legal aid
  • Liverpool


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