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Legal aid for evictions 'about to collapse entirely' says Law Society

nick emerson law society legal aid evictions

Housing legal aid providers are on the brink of collapse, according to the Law Society of England and Wales, which has urged the government to invest in the service before it’s too late.

The society’s latest research reveals that 100% of providers are loss-making, with the average firm only able to recover about half of the full costs of providing housing legal aid.

It says legal aid fees have not increased since 1996, and in 2011 they were cut by 10%. Conversely, typical legal costs have increased 90% since 1996, and by 40% since 2011.

President Nick Emmerson (main picture) believes the figures expose the lengths providers must go to keep housing legal aid afloat by routinely working grossly excessive hours and cross-subsidising from other parts of their businesses. “It’s therefore no surprise that we’re seeing providers exit the market because they can no longer sustain this approach,” he adds.


“At a time when the cost-of-living crisis is driving rising numbers of evictions and repossessions, the UK government needs to use its Civil Legal Aid Review to invest in legal aid now before it collapses completely.”

The society says the government’s failure to increase housing legal aid has weakened the justice system. It also found that 26 million people currently have no access to a local housing legal aid provider, meaning that those on low incomes can’t receive the advice they are legally entitled to, while those who are unable to access legal aid will be forced to represent themselves, putting pressure on the courts and exacerbating delays.

The court system is already straining to cope with housing cases. Quarterly statistics from the Ministry of Justice for October to December 2023 show that landlord possession claims increased by 14% compared with the same quarter in the previous year – up from 20,457 to 23,382.

Pic credit: Law Society

Read more about legal aid for housing cases.


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