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Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice$
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Kevin Albertson, Mary Corcoran, and Jake Phillips

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447345701

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447345701.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

Marketisation and competition in criminal legal aid: implications for access to justice

Marketisation and competition in criminal legal aid: implications for access to justice

Chapter:
(p.133) 9 Marketisation and competition in criminal legal aid: implications for access to justice
Source:
Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice
Author(s):

Tom Smith

Ed Johnston

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447345701.003.0010

The right to legal representation is a fundamental right, and arrangements for funding this are crucial to ensuring access to justice for those accused of criminal offences. Criminal legal aid has long been regarded as an entitlement for most citizens, particularly the most economically vulnerable. However, criminal legal aid has been cast in a different light in recent years, viewed not through the lens of welfarism but subjected to neo-liberal values such as cost neutrality, marketisation and managerialism. This was particularly evident in the ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ consultation of 2013, which resurrected the idea of competitive tendering for provision of criminal legal aid services. Although not pursued in full, subsequent changes – including cuts of 8.75% to fees for legal aid lawyers – appear to have significantly affected the scope of criminal legal aid. The number of providers of such services has consistently declined over the past decade and firms have frequently reported significant financial pressure. Arguably, these reforms – justified in neo-liberal terms – have affected access to justice and by extension the quality of justice offered by the Criminal Justice System, CJS. This chapter will examine the market-driven reform of criminal legal aid in recent years, and consider two apparent examples of impact: evidence of an increasing number of litigants-in-person in criminal cases; and the outsourcing of police station work to independent ‘agents’. The chapter will also question some of the apparent contradictions in neo-liberal reform of criminal legal aid, such as the deliberate policy of reducing the size of the provider market; and the ‘false economies’ created by the pursuit of efficiency and economy: goals which are underpinned and enforced by the Criminal Procedure Rules.

Keywords:   Legal Aid, Marketisation, Managerialism, Neo-Liberalism, Access to Justice, Litigants-in-Person, Outsourcing

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