Legal aid cuts continue to be criticised

Family Law|October 20th 2016

Two prominent organisations have criticised legal aid cuts in England and Wales.

Both the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) and human rights group Amnesty International have condemned measures which were introduced as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) in 2013. These eliminated legal aid for most family law disputes and severely limited it for other civil cases.

This week, the TUC published a report entitled Justice Denied in which they claim LASPO is “pricing people out of justice”. Researchers asked 141 people who work for various legal organisations about the impact of the legal aid cuts. More than two thirds of those questioned believed that cases were taking longer to complete since LASPO was enacted.

Additionally, the vast majority of participants – 87 per cent – said the resulting rise in the number of litigants in person had had a detrimental effect on the family court’s ability to provide justice “fairly, effectively and efficiently”.

Kevin Rowan is the head of public services for the TUC. He said the report should act as “a wake up-call to ministers”.

This came shortly after Amnesty International made similar arguments in their assessment of the legal aid cuts. Their report was titled Cuts that Hurt: The impact of legal aid cuts on access to justice. In it, the group argued that LASPO had disproportionately affected marginalised groups and claimed that “advice deserts” had formed in some areas where people did not have access to proper legal guidance.

Alice Wyss, the organisation’s UK researcher, claimed that access to justice had been “decimated” by LASPO and “left thousands of the most vulnerable without essential legal advice and support”. As a result, England and Wales was in danger of having a two-tier justice system which is “closed to the poorest” she warned.

Amnesty International called on the government to launch “a review of this failing system immediately”. Wyss added that if the Prime Minister was “really determined to deliver a country that works for all then there needs to be a justice system for everyone, not just those who can afford it”.

Read Justice Denied here and Cuts that Hurt here.

Photo by Metropolico.org via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Share This Post...

Comments(2)

  1. Andrew says:

    Of course I remember when two members of the NUM sued Scargill and won and Scargill demanded that the staff in the office where they were given legal aid and the staff in the office of the court who allowed it to be heard should be thrown out of their unions.
    .
    The attitude of the trade union movement to anybody else’s legal rights has always been ambivalent. The right to go about your lawful occasions even if there is a picket line in the way has never figured high on their list of rights which matter.

  2. paul apreda says:

    This is interesting. We hear much about the removal of Legal Aid through LASPO – yet grants are up in Private Law by 35% in the first 2 quarters of 2016. Anyone would think Legal Aid hadn’t been ‘removed’!

Leave a Reply

Close

Newsletter Sign Up

For all the latest news from Stowe Family law
please sign up for instant access today.



Privacy Policy