The Labour Party has announced an immediate review of legal aid.
Labour claims that the government’s reforms have “had a disastrous impact on access to justice” and left many people without access to legal representation. They have named Shadow Justice Minister Lord Willy Bach to investigate “the wider consequences” of the current legal aid system.
In 2012, the coalition government made significant cuts to legal aid via the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). In family law cases, access was essentially eliminated unless one party could prove domestic violence.
LASPO has been criticised by numerous legal professionals and MPs since its introduction. Labour’s upcoming review will “look at the wider consequences of the reforms” and propose possible changes to the legislation.
Lord Bach said he was “delighted” to lead the review. He added that access to legal representation and help was “a cornerstone of the rule of law and the mark of a decent society”. However, the reforms introduced by LASPO “have left too many people unable to enforce their rights”, he declared.
Labour’s shadow solicitor general Karl Turner will also participate in the review. The East Hull MP criticised the Conservative Party’s “assault on Legal Aid” during the last Parliament and said Labour needed to “make sure that access to justice is made available to all, not just the well-off”.