26 May 2011

Protest at the cuts to legal aid

The proposed cuts to Legal Aid will threaten access to justice for millions of people, with legal areas such as medical negligence, employment, immigration, welfare and family law being affected or taken completely out of scope. How can this be right? Access to justice is a cornerstone of democracy and these proposed cuts will be a further blow to the most vulnerable in our society.

Photo: Ruscombe lake

The reforms are designed to cut the £2.1 billion legal aid bill by £350 million within four years and by more than £400 million within a decade. The Law Society says this is "ill-conceived and unfair" and will leave half a million people a year with the prospect of fighting battles without legal representation.
The Bar Council, which represents barristers, said it will actually cost the country up to £350 million a year rather than save it because a rise in "DIY cases" where people represent themselves is likely to clog up the courts.

The Green Party passed an emergency motion earlier this year to challenge the cuts. Joanna Lumley has already joined the campaign and I urge folk to go to the link below to send a letter to Kenneth Clarke. In Gloucestershire the central government cuts to legal aid could affect the challenge re the libraries. Yet I hear the challenge has a very good chance of being won. It is vital it doesn't miss out because the law commission will not fund the whole case.  Meanwhile Cllr Noble seems to have had the library portfolio taken away from her.

Sound Off For Justice (the campaign for the positive reform of Legal Aid) has consulted lawyers and those that will be directly affected by the proposed cuts. They are now proposing alternative reforms to the current system. Importantly these reforms will ensure that the required savings can be made whilst safeguarding the public right to legal support and access to justice. Please send Kenneth Clarke a letter protesting from the campaign website at: http://soundoffforjustice.org/sign-our-letter

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Worse still legal centres are set to close:
One in three of Britain's law centres, where solicitors provide legal advice to poorer communities, face closure because of the squeeze on public spending.