Legal Aid in Northern Ireland: Annual Statistics to March 2024 published today

Date published: 27 June 2024

The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland today published Statistical Bulletin 2/2024 ‘Legal Aid in Northern Ireland: Annual Statistics to March 2024’. It is the Agency’s second Official Statistics publication.

Labour Market Statistics
Labour Market Statistics

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 2023/24, a total of 63,881 cases were granted legal aid. Of these, over two-thirds (69%; 44,260) were criminal cases with 31% (19,621) representing civil cases granted by the Agency. This represents a small decrease of 0.1% (95) on the previous year (2022/23; 63,976).
  • At 63,881, the number of legal aid cases granted in 2023/24 represents the lowest annual total over the last five years 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 £114,007,192 was authorised from the legal aid fund in 2023/24, an increase of 12% from the previous year (2022/23) when authorised expenditure totalled £101,767,269.
  • While the majority of legal aid cases granted in 2023/24 were criminal (69%, compared with 31% for civil), the majority of expenditure was authorised for civil cases, with criminal authorisations accounting for 46% of total expenditure and civil 54%.
  • During 2023/24, the legal aid grant rate for males (48.8 grants per 1,000 population) was almost three times that of females (18.5 per 1,000 population). Despite displaying similar grant rates for civil cases (10.6 and 10.0 respectively), males were over four times more likely to be the recipient of legal aid in criminal cases (38.2 v 8.5).
  • In 2023/24, a total of 457 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 603 registrations, the equivalent rate for barristers was 32 per 100,000 population.
  • Focusing on profit costs alone (excluding VAT and disbursements), total authorised expenditure in 2023/24 was almost evenly split between solicitors (50.2%) and barristers (49.5%), with the remaining profit costs attributed to third party providers.




Notes to editors: 

1.  With an immediate focus on 2023/24, 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.

2.  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.

3.  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.

4.  It is envisaged that the next statistical release in this series, containing data for the 2024/25 year, will be available in May 2025.   

5.  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.  The bulletin is available in PDF format from either the LSA (DoJ) Publicatin Section of this website or by contacting:

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

6.  Department of Justice media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via EMAIL

7.  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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