For the best part of a decade legal aid and its funding has been a battle ground. First, the budget suffered from the stringency cuts of the Coalition. Then the 2012 LASPO Act changed the structure and restricted the number and type of cases eligible for aid. Today there is little confidence that the system works efficiently or fairly. It appears to lack transparency, the arrangements are bureaucratic and matters are exacerbated by the tight funding. The consequences are grave, with delays in seeing cases through, shortages of professional lawyers, and worrying limits on access to justice.
Meanwhile the government has two reviews pending, on Criminal Legal Aid and the Legal Aid Means Test. But it has no appetite for dramatic change.
What, therefore, can be done?
On Wednesday 23rd February (6.30 pm-7.40 pm), Politeia’s special event How to Tackle Legal Aid will consider the wider questions and potential solutions. Speaking will be members of the profession and co-authors of its next publication to be joined by former chairman of the Bar Council, Lord Sandhurst QC:
- Gavin Rice, Policy Director, The Centre for Social Justice
- Professor Jonathan Fisher QC, Bright Line Law and Red Lion Chambers, Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics
- Edite Ligere, One Crown Office Row, Politeia’s Director
- James Taghdissian, Colleton Chambers
Dr Sheila Lawlor, Co-author and editor of the publication and Politeia’s Research Director will chair the meeting and introduce the publication.