SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Access to Justice: China – UK Dialogues on Criminal Legal Aid and Effective Defence

Various speakers

Date: 16 December 2019Time: 10:15 AM

Finishes: 16 December 2019Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: L67

Type of Event: Seminar

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This research seminar takes place against the background of the Chinese criminal justice reform which has expanded the criminal legal aid scheme since the revised Criminal Procedure Law 2018 (CPL 2018). The former legal aid system only covered limited categories of suspects and over 70 percent of all criminal cases were tried without legal representation. Since CPL 2018, all suspects can technically access a free defence service. However, this comprehensive legal aid reform poses great challenges to the Chinese criminal justice system. Perhaps one of the greatest concerns has been the quality of services provided by lawyers under legal aid. How to ensure the quality of defence service against the backdrop of a huge demand for legal assistance and shortages of experience in managing the legal aid system?

This event will explore the burgeoning issues in relation to criminal legal aid. England and Wales was one of the first jurisdictions to introduce a comprehensive criminal legal aid system. From its inception as an essential element of the welfare state following the Second World War, through to its peak in the 1990s and to its gradual decline, the British criminal legal aid system can certainly offer a wealth of wisdom on how criminal legal aid can be effectively delivered. This seminar aims to bring together influential scholars on criminal legal aid from both countries, sharing experiences from the domestic systems and deepening the understanding of the operation of effective defence. There will be comparative themes focusing on the reforms on the criminal legal aid systems and the future of the legal aid scheme in the digital age, which will have a profound impact on the legal assistance.


  • Mr Glyn Hardy (Legal Aid Agency)
  • Professor Jacqueline Hodgson (University of Warwick)
  • Professor Wu Hongyao (Director of the National Institute of Legal Aid of China)
  • Dr Vicky Kemp (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Mao Lixin (Beijing Shangquan Law Firm)
  • Dr Thomas Smith (University of the West of England)
  • Professor Zuo Weimin (Sichuan University)
  • Professor Gu Yongzhong (China University of Political Science and Law)

Speakers Biographies


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration

Chair: Dr Grace Mou (SOAS) 

Organiser: SOAS Centre for Asian Legal Studies and SOAS China Institute

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823

Sponsor: Sino-British Fellowship Trust