Representatives from the Law Society have been hard at work at this year’s party political conferences, lobbying Ministers, MPs and delegates about the ever-tighter restrictions on public access to justice. The Ministry of Justice is soon to carry out a review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (known as LASPO), the most recent piece of legislation in this area of the law. In a response to this review the Law Society has been highlighting the damaging effect of limiting access to justice for ordinary and vulnerable members of society, particularly for clients facing domestic abuse, childcare issues or homelessness.
Following the introduction of the Act, hundreds of thousands of people became ineligible for legal aid due to the changes introduced. In addition there is a very low threshold of the means test, by which applicants are assessed.
More and more law firms have given up legal aid work because of the bureaucracy and uneconomic rates of pay offered, leading to areas of the country becoming legal aid deserts where effective advice has all but disappeared.
Law Society president Christina Blacklaws commented: “If British justice still exists it is only for the wealthy, or the small number on very low incomes lucky enough to find a solicitor willing and able to fight a mountain of red tape to secure legal aid…….if people cannot effectively enforce and defend their rights, then for all practical purposes those rights do not exist.”
“There is clear evidence that providing legal aid for early legal help, particularly in housing and family matters, is far more cost-effective than denying it. And just as people expect an NHS doctor to treat them when they fall sick – they should be able to get legal advice if they have a serious legal problem,” she added.
Bretherton Law has been serving the people of Hertfordshire for over 50 years, and we are proud to support the more vulnerable members of society by continuing to offer legal aid for family and child law. However as set out above, eligibility is restricted. For honest, professional advice from our experienced Family and Child Law team, call us on 01727 869293 or book an appointment online.