Save UK justice by laughing at the proposals to reform legal aid.
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Transforming Legal Aid – Published on May 26, 2013
Think Left wrote in Cameron attacks our hard-won ‘Right to Challenge’:
The rule of law is inherent in democracy whatever the level of governance or public authorities – national or local – as this concept addresses the exercise of power as such and the relationship between the individual and the state, which is a starting point for building any democratic system…..
At the time of the legal aid bill’s final reading, there was comparatively little reporting or discussion, given the magnitude of its implications. Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said of the government’s legal aid bill (LASPO) when it was passed:
“This is a dark day for justice in the UK, and internationally. The government has placed legal remedy beyond the reach of human rights victims and slammed the doors of the UK courts shut on them. “These changes are an open invitation to huge multinationals to operate with impunity around the world, as they can be confident they won’t be challenged or held to account in a UK court.”(5)
However, attempts by the House of Lords, to mitigate the impact of the ministers’ plans to cut legal aid in England and Wales, were overturned by the Tory/LD MPs when the legislation was returned to the House of Commons. The Lord’s amendments would have protected children, domestic violence victims and disabled people from the worst of the legal aid cuts.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said “To cut legal aid at a time of unprecedented changes to welfare support would mean disabled people who fall foul of poor decision-making, red tape or administrative error being pushed even further into poverty as they struggle to manoeuvre the complicated legal system without the necessary expert support they need.”
The parent of a 48-year-old daughter with learning difficulties and other health issues, summed up the situation ‘Legal aid bill ‘puts most vulnerable at risk’:
“It is, sadly, getting worse by the day. However, it is not the result of a genuine error, or rushed policy-making, but of a deliberate and callous plan.
The coalition knew full well that its planned attack on the benefits of the disabled and the weak would lead to a huge rise in challenges, supported by legal aid. It was also well aware that the cuts were going to be so callous that 90% of those affected who secured legal representation would win their cases and have their benefits reinstated. So the link between the introduction of the benefits cuts and legal aid cuts was deliberate, and it started from the first day that David Cameron arrived in Downing Street.
In the short period of time since then, people with serious disabilities have gone from being “poor dears” to “scrounging bastards”. The rightwing press has helped in the preparation for the cuts in legal aid and the increasing attacks on the wellbeing of vulnerable people. Here in Barnet, Tory councillors are planning to make a profit from disabled services – and the only way they can make that profit is by destroying or cutting back to the bone their support services.
The attack on benefit claimants by this coalition government, along with the junta-style assessment panel, is for one purpose only, and that is to save money, no matter the human cost.
John Sullivan Edgware, Middlesex (6)
…. With their proposals to limit judicial reviews, the government has followed its usual pattern of devising legislation without reference to those experts in the field. In this instance, without taking advice from lawyers, hence their ‘fury and bewilderment’. But this was also the case, with the Health and Social Care bill, the Welfare Reform bill and the perpetual changes wrought by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove…..
… The overall strategy seems to be to cut the ‘provision’ and then make a legal appeal almost impossible by increasing its cost, removing legal aid, reducing the time frame and if possible removing the decision from the courts altogether…
Save UK Justice – Sign the e-petition here
The MOJ should not proceed with their plans to reduce access to justice by depriving citizens of legal aid or the right to representation by the Solicitor of their choice.