Closed petition Make people who enter the UK illegally ineligible for legal aid

To disincentivise people from entering the country illegally, legal aid should be stopped for anyone who enters the country illegally. It's a complete mockery of the system, especially when legal aid is paid for by the British tax payer

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 March 2022

In England and Wales, eligibility for legal aid is governed by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which targets support at those who need it most.

Read the response in full

The ability of individuals to resolve their legal issues is vital for a just society and it is crucial that people are able to access support when they need it. A core element of this support is access to publicly funded advice and representation where it is necessary. The Government provides legal aid in England and Wales to ensure those who need it can access legal advice and representation.

The nationality of the individual, their immigration status, or the way in which they entered the UK does not have any bearing on their ability to access legal aid. However, it is important to note that not all immigration issues are eligible for legal aid. This is not an area the Government is intending to review, because this Government is committed to protecting innocent civilians fleeing conflict and persecution around the world.

However, the government has made some tough choices as to who should receive legal aid, in order to make the best use of limited resources and ensure legal aid is targeted at those who need it most. Applicants do not receive a penny of legal aid – payments are means-tested and sent directly to solicitors and barristers who represent them to ensure a fair hearing.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 redefined the scope of civil legal aid – these reforms were based on four main objectives:

i. To discourage unnecessary and adversarial litigation at public
ii. To target legal aid to those who need it most;
iii. To make significant savings to the cost of the scheme;
iv. To deliver better overall value for money for the taxpayer.

To receive legal aid, an individual’s issue must be within the scope of the legal aid scheme as set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to LASPO, and they must generally pass means and merits test. The Government is carrying out a review of the means test, which is expected to be published shortly.

Legal aid applications are determined by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) on an individual basis. The LAA operates independently, and it is important that decisions on legal aid eligibility are, and are seen to be, free from political and Government influence.

Funding may also be available through the Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) Scheme, where there is a risk that not providing legal aid could result in a breach of human rights or retained enforceable EU law, subject to the statutory means and merits tests.

Legal aid is a devolved matter, so in Scotland and Northern Ireland, legal aid availability is determined by their devolved governments, rather than the UK government.

Ministry of Justice

Other parliamentary business

Closing on 8 March - Government consultation on updating the Human Rights Act

The Government is asking for people's views on how it proposes to update the Human Rights Act. The Government aims to update the 1998 Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights. It wants to hear from people what they think about these changes.

Read a summary of the proposals, and share your views via the link at the bottom of the page:

The survey closes on 8 March.

Who is running the consultation?

The consultation is being run by the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for
courts, legal aid, prisons, probation and the rule of law.

Find out more about the Ministry of Justice: