IV. THE IMPACT OF THE PROPOSED REFORMS
18. It is not possible to assess the overall impact
of the proposed changes at present as many of the details remain
subject to further development and consultation. However, Lord
Bach told us that the Government hoped that, besides controlling
costs, the new system would improve transparency and provide greater
flexibility to target the social need agenda.
There was, he maintained, general support for a change in the
administrative arrangements, with the Legal Aid Department of
the Law Society ceasing to have administrative responsibility.
19. The Law Society has no objection in principle
to the change of administrative arrangements, but has expressed
considerable reservations over many aspects of the Government's
proposals for reform, particularly in relation to cost issues.
It also expresses concerns about the possible impact on the structure
of the profession in Northern Ireland.
20. One of the recurrent difficulties of the present
system is delays in civil legal aid adjudications. The Legal Aid
Advisory Committee has drawn attention to this.
Although some work has been carried out to reduce these delays,
Lord Bach agreed that it would be very important for the LSC to
tackle this problem.
21. In the following paragraphs, we consider some
specific aspects of the proposed reforms, and the submissions
we have received on them.
37 Q 17. Back
12, p. 51. See also Q 22-23. Back
for example, the Legal Aid Annual Reports for 1997-98 (HC 526
(1998-99)) and for 1998-99 (HC 595 (1999-2000)). Back