Legal Aid in Northern Ireland: Annual Statistics to March 2023

Date published: 28 March 2024

The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland today published Statistical Bulletin 1/2024 ‘Legal Aid in Northern Ireland: Annual Statistics to March 2023’. It is the Agency’s inaugural Official Statistics publication.

This bulletin presents legal aid statistics for Northern Ireland since 2019/20, covering applications granted and authorised expenditure for criminal and civil cases, alongside applicant and supplier characteristics. 


Key findings from the bulletin include:

  • In 2022/23, a total of 63,976 cases were granted legal aid. Of these, over two-thirds (68%; 43,790) were criminal cases with 32% (20,186) representing civil cases granted by the Agency. This represents a decrease of 7% on the previous year (2021/22; 68,962).
  • At 63,976, the number of legal aid cases granted in 2022/23 is the lowest since LAMS was introduced in 2019/20 and reflects more stringent verification of capital threshold as part of the financial eligibility test associated with applications for civil legal services.
  • A total of £101,767,269 was authorised from the legal aid fund in 2022/23, an increase of 7% from the previous year (2021/22) when authorised expenditure totalled £95,287,337.
  • While the majority of legal aid cases granted in 2022/23 were criminal (68%, compared with 32% for civil), the split in expenditure between criminal and civil cases was almost equal, with criminal authorisations accounting for 49.8% of total expenditure and civil 50.2%.
  • During 2022/23, the legal aid grant rate per 1,000 population was almost three times higher for males (49.2 grants per 1,000 population) than females (18.2 per 1,000 population). Despite displaying similar grant rates for civil cases (10.9 and 10.2 respectively), males were almost five times more likely to be the recipient of legal aid in criminal cases (38.3 v 8.0). 
  • In 2022/23, a total of 459 solicitor firms registered on LAMS to provide legal aid services in Northern Ireland. This equates to a rate of 24 firms per 100,000 population. At 621 registrations, the equivalent rate for barristers was 33 per 100,000 population.
  • Focusing on profit costs alone (excluding VAT and disbursements), solicitors received a higher proportion of total authorised expenditure in 2022/23 (53%) than barristers (46%).

Notes to editors: 

1.  This bulletin presents legal aid statistics up to March 2023 and covers the number of applications granted and associated expenditure for both criminal and civil cases.  Applicant and provider characteristics are also explored.

2,  With an immediate focus on 2022/23, comparisons are made where possible back to 2019/20 - the year in which the Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI; ‘the Agency’) launched its new digital case management system (LAMS) as part of an extensive transformation program.

3.  Data underpinning this publication have been extracted from LAMS as annual snapshots.  While the Agency is responsible for adjudicating on applications for civil legal services, the grant of criminal legal aid is a judicial function.  Accordingly, data covering the grant of criminal legal aid, while recorded on LAMS, are ultimately sourced from the case management system (ICOS) within Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service (NICtS) and shared between the two organisations through a daily interface arrangement.

4.  Prior to 2019/20, legal aid was primarily a paper-based operation, with only a subset of information stored electronically.  The respective case management system (Phoenix) has since been decommissioned meaning that comparable data to those contained within the bulletin are less likely to be available.

5.  It is envisaged that the next statistical release in this series, containing data for the 2023/24 year, will be available in summer 2024.   

6.  Official Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.  They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs and are produced free from any political interference.  They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access. 

7.  The bulletin is available in PDF format from either the LSA (DoJ) website ( or by contacting:

Information and Analysis Unit~
Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland
3rd Floor, AIB Building
92 Ann Street
Belfast BT1 3HH

8.  Department of Justice media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours 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 on 028 9037 8110.

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