Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Let us not forget about the legal aid cuts

The Independent's James Ashton's pen portrait of Catherine Dixon, the chief executive of the Law Society, draws attention to the fact that the Ministry of Justice is an unprotected department in the face of government cuts.

Around £700m has been taken out of the annual legal aid budget since 2010, leaving 600,000 people no longer entitled to help. The second half of a £220m cuts package is due next month. Contracts for duty solicitors who attend magistrates’ courts and police stations are being cut by two-thirds.

The cost of going to law in civil matters has increased as well.

The most recent increase in court fees means it is now 40 times more expensive to issue claims here than in New York. “If you are a Russian oligarch bringing proceedings here, the court fee is not going to impact on you but if you are a small or medium-sized business trying to recover payment from a larger organisation then it is really significant.”

“If we were a developing country, then establishing a rule of law and access to justice would be fundamental before we start thinking about health and education,” Dixon adds. “Given that, it really is critical that we don’t undermine it.”

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