Ministry of Justice

Reforming the Legal Aid Family Barrister Fee Scheme

Status: Closed - with response

Open date: 18 June 2008

Close date: 10 September 2008

Responses published: 20 February 2009

This paper sets out proposals for reforming the Family Graduated Fee Scheme under which barristers are paid for legal aid advocacy work in family cases.

Currently barristers in family cases are paid significantly more than solicitors for the same advocacy work, and the department wants to move towards a system where we pay the same for the same service to the client, regardless of whether the advocate has a background as a solicitor or barrister.

The paper proposes ways to reduce spending so the department can stay within its budget allocation and protect services to clients, while taking the first step towards harmonising advocacy payments.

Consultation paper


The Ministry of Justice and Legal Services Commission consulted between 18 June and 10 September 2008 on changes to the legal aid payment scheme for barristers in family cases. There were 19 responses received. The majority of respondents felt that family barrister fees should not be decreased. Following consultation, the MoJ and the LSC announced that certain targeted uplifts (Special Issue Payments) would be reduced or abolished.