Imminent cuts to legal aid could “undermine the rule of law”, said Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, in a recent interview with the BBC.
He said many people would be left feeling alienated from the courts when entitlement to aid is withdrawn next month from those involved in divorce and family issues, as well as employment disputes, clinical negligence and other legal areas.
The government hopes to save £350 million in a bid to cut costs. Funding will still be available to more urgent cases, such as those those involving domestic violence.
Lord Neuberger said:
“My worry is the removal of legal aid for people to get advice about law and get representation in court will start to undermine the rule of law because people will feel like the government isn’t giving them access to justice in all sorts of cases. And that will either lead to frustration and lack of confidence in the system, or it will lead to people taking the law into their own hands.”
The 65 year-old barrister also predicted additional strain and costs for the the legal system as increasing numbers of self-represented ‘litigants in person’ flood into the courts.
“This will mean that court hearings will last longer, the burden on court staff and judges will increase. ”And you may find the savings the government thinks it’s making in legal aid will be offset in other costs of courts and judges and court staff in supporting litigants in person.”