legal aid cuts


Caped Crusaders and Princely Rights – The Human Rights Round-Up

19 April 2015 by

Photo credit: The Guardian

Photo credit: The Guardian

Laura Profumo runs through the week’s human rights headlines.

In the News:

The Conservative party published its manifesto last week. The document makes for curious reading, writes academic Mark Elliott. The manifesto confirms the party’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act and to replace it with a British Bill of Rights, reversing the “mission creep” of current human rights law.

Yet the polarising references to “Labour’s Human rights Act” illustrate the Act’s failure to secure supra-political constitutional status, being tossed between the parties like a “political football”, writes Elliott.

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Can you decide who is to be your unpaid advocate? Eleanor Battie

24 May 2013 by

mckenzie-friend11RE F (CHILDREN) 14 May 2013, Court of Appeal – extempore so currently only available as a Lawtel summary (£)

A topical case, this, given legal aid cutbacks. It concerns the ability of unrepresented litigants to choose those to help them out as advocates in court. Not an unconstrained right, as this case demonstrates. The High Court ruled that a judge had been entitled to refuse an application for a particular person to act as a McKenzie friend despite that individual not being present in court at the time of the application. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. 

This application for permission to appeal resulted from the refusal by a family judge to permit a person to act as a McKenzie friend within care proceedings.

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Lord Justice Jackson: legal aid should remain for clinical negligence

13 September 2011 by

Lord Justice Jackson spoke in strong terms last week to the Cambridge Law Faculty on the controversial topic of legal aid and legal costs reforms.

The architect of the proposed reforms to legal costs made clear his position on the government’s proposed amendments, set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which was reviewed by the Committee of the House of Commons today, 13 September (listen to the committee recording here). He was keen to highlight which parts of the reforms reflect he views expressed in his report, and which parts he does not consider to be in the interests of justice. He said, in summary:

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Legal aid reforms will be catastrophic for victims of medical negligence

22 November 2010 by

The government’s proposed reforms to legal aid will have a catastrophic effect on those who have suffered as a result of negligent medical treatment.

When Kenneth Clarke informed Parliament on Monday that

Legal aid will still routinely be available in civil and family cases where people’s life or liberty is at stake, or where there is risk of serious physical harm or the immediate loss of their home.

he clearly did not mean that the destruction of a person’s life or the suffering of seriously physical harm through the mismanagement of their medical treatment was to be included within this. If he had meant that he would have proposed at the same time that clinical negligence would continue to be funded by legal aid.

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Justice’s hidden backbone – a tribute to BAILII

18 November 2010 by

By all accounts, it has been a gloomy year for access to justice. The legal aid budget is to be reduced by £350m and state assistance has effectively disappeared in non-criminal cases. The overall justice budget, which is already low by international standards, is to be cut by a further 23%. But believe it or not, there may be reasons to be cheerful.

In the virtual world, legal blogs are becoming an established voice in the UK legal community and the flourishing blogosphere has given the public a lively, accessible and most importantly free new way of engaging with the law. With legal aid becoming scarcer and Citizens Advice Bureaus losing their funding, free information services such can be the last resort for those who seek legal help without having to pay for a lawyer.

But none of these services would exist without their hidden backbone: BAILII. To that end, when Legal Week published its excellent review of legal blogging  last month, the failure to mention BAILII caused a min-revolution from a gaggle of legal bloggers in the comments section.

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Legal aid cuts: Do we spend more on legal aid than other countries?

16 November 2010 by

Updated | One of the many points of interest from yesterday’s announcement that legal aid is to be cut by £350m per year was the underlying justification, put by Ken Clarke in his announcement, that England and Wales spend more on legal aid than other countries.

The Justice Secretary said that “we currently have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world“. But where does this often-quoted statistic arise from?

In its consultation document, the MoJ quotes (at para 3.43) a report commissioned from the University of York into comparative international legal aid systems. The report, Efficiency and quality of justice European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ); International comparison of publicly funded legal services and justice systems, was produced in October 2009 by Roger Bowles and Amanda Perry. It investigated the legal aid systems in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden and compared these to the system in England and Wales.

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Legal aid cuts, the aftermath

16 November 2010 by

Updated | The legal community has been digesting yesterday’s announcement of government plans for legal aid to be reduced by around £350 per year from 2014-15.

Most commentators and legal professionals are worried that less money for legal representation will lead to less access to justice for the poorer members of society. But some have also expressed relief that the criminal legal aid scheme has been left largely untouched, as have funding for inquests, judicial reviews and asylum cases.

For those who have a view on the reforms, the Ministry of Justice has an online questionnaire which can be filled in here.

Nicholas Green QC (Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales: “A permanent contraction of justice cannot be justified by the “big society” or by any sort of philosophical mantra. Ultimately an efficient justice system is fundamental to the wellbeing of the country. We only have to look at our television screen at events unfolding in Burma and elsewhere to see the undeniable truth of that proposition.”


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Legal aid cuts announced, significant reduction in funding of civil and family cases

15 November 2010 by

Updated x 2 | The lord chancellor Ken Clarke has announced plans for significant cuts to the legal aid system, which provides funding for legal representation to those who otherwise cannot afford it. The plans were largely as expected and will be open to consultation.

Update: The MoJ has published full details of the plans:

  • The main documents, including impact assessments are here
  • The proposals can be downloaded here
  • Views on the consultation can be submitted online here
  • A summary of the plans can be found here.
  • The consultation on proposals for reform for civl litigation funding (the Jackson review) is here.

The scale of the cuts is expected to be around £350m out of the £2.2bm budget, which is just over 15%. Some of the plans had been leaked with partial accuracy by the Sunday Telegraph.

 

Update x 2: Read a summary of the reaction to the cuts here and an analysis of the underlying rational here.

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