The Criminal Cases Review Commission: Legal Aid and Legal Representatives

Dr Lucy Welsh’s research on Legal Aid in criminal defence work addresses how criminal defence lawyers (and, by implication, their clients) have been affected by funding policies in recent years. She has previously been consulted on this issue by the Ministry of Justice.

Her most recent publications in this field are:

Lucy’s work led to her being part of a team that was commissioned by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to examine the impact of funding cuts on defence lawyers. That 2.5 year project (ending March 2021) team was led by Prof. Richard Vogler and funded by the ESRC. Early on in the project, the Pathways to Impact document that was prepared for the ESRC was identified by the University ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Project Manager as an example to be used in the Impact Toolkit documents available to all staff at Sussex. 

Contributing to improvements in the fields of defence funding and representation for clients was an aim of the work from the outset. The project also aimed to develop discussion about funding issues within policy circles. Some of the ways that this has begun to be achieved include:

  • A project website to assist with knowledge dissemination and generating impact beyond academia.
  • In May 2019, Welsh was invited to present interim findings about the work the UCL, Oxford, Cambridge and Criminal Bar Association’s Assize Seminars: Cutting Edge Criminal Law, an event that was attended by academics and practitioners.
  • Welsh and Vogler have attended two meeting with the CCRC’s Research Advisory Board, which consisted of CCRC staff, academics and practitioners to discuss the progress and findings of the work.
  • In March 2020, Welsh met with the Director and Legal Director at JUSTICE to discuss the scope of possible further research projects in relation to criminal appeals and the CCRC.
  • The project is referenced in the CCRC’s 2019/2020 Annual Report and Accounts (HC521), and in the CCRC’s 2018/2019 Annual Report and Accounts (HC 2438)
  • Welsh submitted written evidence to the Justice Committee inquiry, The Future of Legal Aid. Welsh’s written evidence to the inquiry was published, and Welsh was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion, chaired by Justice Committee Chair, Sir Bob Neill, on 8 February 2021.
  • Welsh and Clarke identified an area of the work that needed further exploration: the impact of funding cuts on the work of expert witnesses. Welsh secured further funding from Research England’s Strategic Priority Fund to conduct focus groups with expert witnesses so that their views can be fed into the final report. Funding was also obtained to produce hard copies of the final report for dissemination beyond academia.