Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

The future for legal aid

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In October, the outgoing director of JUSTICE delivered an extremely thoughtful lecture on how legal services for the poor should develop, following the enormous cuts that will result from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

In it he argues that there is no point in simply hoping that a future government will restore the cuts now being made; that is not going to happen.

Instead, we have to think much more creatively about how legal advice and support services are delivered – more imaginative use of Information Technologies, for example; and also more more thought about how we may law more understandable – so that people can understand more of their rights and obligations without the need for lawyer interpreters.

My own beef is that recommendations the Law Commission made relating to clarifying the terms and conditions on which landlords and tenants rent property – which affect a third of the population – could have re-engineered this very important and practical area of law, were not taken forward by government. The more general point is that if governments continue to enact protective legislation – which is an important past of their work – it must be done in a way that is meaningful to the people directly affected, not just to the lawyers who will no longer be on hand to assist.

The lecture is extremely stimulating. Not everyone will agree with what it says. But it is worth reading. You can download the text at http://www.justice.org.uk/data/files/resources/332/After-the-Act-what-future-for-legal-aid.pdf

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Written by lwtmp

November 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

Posted in Chapter 10, Chapter 4

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