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Legal aid expenditure has risen dramatically in recent years, prompting attention from successive governments. A prominent theme of past and present government reform proposals has been the shifting of risk away from the taxpayer towards lawyers, clients and insurers by altering the means by which legal aid lawyers are paid. This paper explores this theme by presenting information on legal aid expenditure trends over the last two decades and then considering whether payment mechanisms have contributed to this performance. Finally, it reviews previous and current reform proposals in this area. It concludes that, because risk-shifting also alters incentives, it is essential that reform recognises and monitors these.



Fiscal Studies

Publication Date





261 - 286