New measures to help put a stop to convicted criminals who avoid paying back their legal aid bills have been put out to consultation today.
The consultation proposes:
- Seizing and selling vehicles if criminals fail to pay their legal aid contribution
- Pursuing criminals for the entire cost of their bill if they refuse to provide the financial information needed to judge their contribution
- Adjusting the amount they are obligated to pay if assets or earnings come to light after their contribution has been imposed.
With £700 million a year spent on criminal legal aid, and estimates that less than 20% of what should be paid back is currently collected, this consultation puts forward important measures to improve this.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
‘Convicted criminals have cheated innocent taxpayers for too long by dodging requirements to contribute to the legal costs of their defence. It is not right that law abiding citizens foot the bill when those concerned can pay. These proposals set out robust measures that will see costs recuperated from criminals.’
Anyone accused of a crime is granted legal aid to cover the cost of their defence in Crown Court.
If they are convicted and deemed capable of paying back some, or all, of that legal aid bill they are required to do so.
Crown Court means testing of criminal legal aid consultation