Debate on legal aid regulations

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Peers discussed two sets of regulations relating to legal aid during the dinner-break debate on 20 January 2014.

A motion to approve Costs in Criminal Cases (Legal Costs) (Exceptions) Regulations 2013 was tabled by Justice Minister Lord Faulks, who made his maiden appearance at the despatch box since being appointed to the post.

The measure would enable individuals who are normally financially ineligible for legal aid to have their legal costs paid using legal aid funds if they are acquitted in certain Crown Court proceedings.

Peers also discussed a motion to regret the Civil Legal Aid (Merits Criteria) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2013, tabled and later withdrawn by Labour peer Lord Bach.

The regulations make "borderline" cases - where chances of success can not definitely be said to be more than 50% - ineligible for civil legal aid.

They were introduced by the government in an attempt to reduce the size of the legal aid bill by excluding weaker cases.

The Costs in Criminal Cases (Legal Costs) (Exceptions) Regulations 2013 were approved at the end of the debate, without a vote.

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