The Criminal Defence Service Act, which received Royal Assent on 30 March 2006, provides for two enabling powers that will facilitate the introduction of a new means testing scheme and the transfer of responsibility for the grant of legal aid from the courts to the Legal Services Commission. The new scheme was implemented across magistrates' courts on 2 October 2006.
On 16 January 2007, Vera Baird responded to the Law Society's request that the Government commits publicly to a review of the means testing scheme.
Alongside her reply letter, Vera Baird added:
'Just over 150,000 applications have now been processed since the means test was introduced in October and in many areas the new scheme is bedding down.
'I am grateful for the constructive feedback I have received about the means test from practitioners all over the country and from our excellent staff at HMCS. They helped me to sculpt the changes I made in November, which have undoubtedly improved things. The new shorter form will be available on 29 January, and I am staying in close touch, as before, while they too settle in.'
'I will be reviewing in detail the first six months of the new scheme later this year and look forward to constructive engagement with the profession and court staff as part of the review.'
|Lords||First reading||23 May 2005|
|Lords||Second reading||13 June 2005|
|Lords||Grand Committee||28 June 2005|
|Lords||Report stage||17 October 2005|
|Lords||Third reading||24 October 2005|
|Commons||Second reading||13 December 2005|
|Lords||Consideration of Commons' amendments||13 March 2006|
|Lords||Royal Assent||30 March 2006|
|Commons||Royal Assent||30 March 2006|
The Criminal Defence Service Act 2006 will come into force through a series of regulations and Statutory Instruments. Those concerning the work of magistrates' courts took effect from 2 October 2006. Subsequent regulations implementing other provisions of the Act will be made in due course.