Fundamental review of criminal legal aid commenced

Date published: 02 October 2023

The Department of Justice has commenced a fundamental review of criminal legal aid in Northern Ireland.


His Honour Tom Burgess has been appointed by the Department as an independent advisor to lead the review and it is anticipated that he will report his findings and recommendations by the end of June 2024, with the scope to make interim recommendations.

Explaining why the review is being undertaken, Richard Pengelly CB, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Justice said: “I believe it is now timely to take a fundamental look at the criminal legal aid framework with a view to establishing a fit for purpose, robust and modernised framework.” 

His Honour Tom Burgess said: “I am delighted to lead this important fundamental review of criminal legal aid. I accepted the role of independent advisor to help to shape a modernised framework that will suit and reflect current and future needs.”

The review has now commenced and is expected to take nine months to complete, ending in June 2024.  Engagement will continue throughout the review with key stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to input to the process.

In conclusion, Richard said: “I welcome the appointment of His Honour Tom Burgess to lead the criminal legal aid review.  He has extensive experience in both criminal and civil justice systems in Northern Ireland.  His breadth of experience makes him ideally placed to undertake this review and I wish him well in his endeavours.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information on the review at the publication section of this website.
  2. Department of Justice media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email 
  3. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) @Justice_NI
  4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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