Posts tagged ‘Legal aid’

January 11, 2012

Welsh Women’s Aid facts underline need for changes to Legal Aid Bill

Welsh Women’s Aid and Rights of Women have just published a very timely survey of over 300 women using WWA member services and their eligibility for legal aid under the proposed legislation.  The information was collected in the week of 15-21 December and showed that almost half of those surveyed would not be eligible under the current proposed evidence requirements for verifying domestic abuse.  Interestingly, the single largest group who would be eligible were those who had had their case heard at a MARAC – at over 30% of the total.  The survey is well worth looking at http://www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/pdfs/Policy/Evidencing_dv_the_facts.pdf

 

December 1, 2011

A Glimpse of Good News on Legal Aid

The Guardian, Thu 1 Dec 2011 19.23 GMT

Kenneth Clarke’s plans to slice £350m out of the annual legal aid budget appear to be losing momentum after the justice secretary unexpectedly announced a six-month delay to the programme.
The decision to postpone reforms was blamed on the need reschedule legal contracts although it also comes as the reforms encounter fierce opposition in the Lords and strong opposition from senior judges and social welfare organisations.

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November 3, 2011

Great Video from the WI on impact of Legal Aid cuts

A first for this not very techy blog…a really good video about the proposed legal aid cuts from the WI  – click here to watch

July 20, 2011

Good news from Rights of Women on Legal Aid

I received this email from Rights of Women who have done a great job of advocating for change in the legal aid proposals in relation to cases brought under the Domestic Violence rule.

Dear all,

I write with excellent news that the Government has agreed to bring cases brought under the domestic violence rule back into the scope of legal aid within the proposals set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. The statement from the Legal Aid Minister, Jonathan Djanogly MP, was made yesterday 19 July during the sixth sitting of the Public Bill Committee in response to a question raised by the Conservative Party MP, Ben Gummer:

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July 6, 2011

Now this is getting really confusing…

More on the legal aid saga – see below for a Guardian article from last week (sorry – I missed it first time around) about a new fund of £20m to protect law centres from closure in the wake of the legal aid cutbacks.  Surely it would be better to think through the impact of the bill carefully – including the knock on effect on other departments’ budgets – and then work out how to respond.  I don’t see how £20m bridges the gap?

Ken Clarke announces £20m fund after criticism of legal aid cuts

Justice secretary says Lady Hale warned against cuts because she ‘misunderstood’ proposals on legal aid and sentencing

protesters ken clarke

Sound Off For Justice protests against Ken Clarke in Westminster on 29 June. Photograph: http://www.soundoffforjustice.org

A £20m fund is to be created to help law centres and advice services threatened by the government’s plan to cut legal aid, the justice secretary has announced.

This U-turn on funding came as Ken Clarke fought to defend proposals in his legal aid and sentencing bill at the second reading, including proposals to cut £350m out of the justice ministry’s annual £2.1bn legal aid budget.

Asked about criticism of his policy this week from Lady Hale, the supreme court justice, Clarke accused her of having “misunderstood the effect of our proposals”, and suggested he would meet her.

In a speech to the Law Society on Monday night, Lady Hale warned that cuts to legal aid would have a “disproportionate effect upon the poorest and most vulnerable in society”.

In the Commons, Clarke insisted he had a “high regard” for the only woman judge on the supreme court, but added: “I’m surprised by her response. I think … that the honourable lady has misunderstood the effect of the proposals or misunderstood why we are doing it.”

On Tuesday, the Law Centres Federation claimed that 18 out of 52 centres in England and Wales were likely to close as a result of cuts to legal aid.

Clarke’s promise of £20m this year to help “not-for-profit” neighbourhood advice and law centres appears to be a response to such fears. Many centres derived their income from other sources, Clarke insisted.

On clause 12 – the government’s plan to make entitlement to legal advice for those detained in police stations subject to a means test – Clarke suggested it would be reviewed during the passage of the bill.

The justice secretary also said he may consider banning referral fees paid by lawyers in car accident and personal injury cases.

Responding for Labour, the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, claimed the government’s proposals to cut legal aid would result in “the whole country becoming an advice desert”.

Criticising the proposals before the £20m fund was announced, Citizens Advice said: “The proposals will result in significant falls in the estimated income of Citizens Advice bureaux in England and Wales, and will be potentially destabilising to many bureaux.

“The scope changes, applied to existing arrangements, would reduce legal aid income from £25.7m to £5.4m, with the consequent loss of specialist services. However, our modelling also suggests that not-for-profit contracts would cease to be financially viable at this remaining level of funding.”

In the wake of the proposals, Citizans’ Advice chief executive, Gillan Guy, said: “We welcome the government’s recognition of the vital role advice agencies play in resolving problems that put people’s homes, jobs and livelihoods at risk.

But Citizens’ Advice remains very concerned about the legal aid bill. What’s left of civil legal aid will be inaccessible for too many people and unworkable for too many advice providers.”

Welcoming the decision to consider banning referral fees, John Spencer, a solicitor who has campaigned against them, said: “I am thrilled that many legislators have finally woken up to the fact that referral fees are the rotten core of dysfunction in the personal injury market in this country.

“Referral fees introduce perverse commercial incentives into the market and clearly open the door to potential profiteering, not only from introducers of work such as insurers and claims management companies, but also for ancillary services related to each claim such as medical and mobility services.”

• This article has been amended to update comments from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau

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June 24, 2011

More on the Legal Aid Tornado – Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – the aftermath

Some more good links and reflections on the catchily named Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – the aftermath « UK Human Rights Blog.

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June 22, 2011

Legal Aid – change in definition of domestic violence

The general response to the revised Legal Aid proposals has been pretty hostile yesterday. One important concession has been the inclusion of MARAC cases within the domestic violence definition which is a first step to recognising different forms of abuse other than physical violence, and acknowledging the importance of supporting high risk cases.  There are nearly 300 pages of response to read so more on the rest later….

May 25, 2011

So it has come to this? Life after Legal Aid?

Will this be the first in a long line of best sellers?  Go to http://www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk/ to find what looks like the first ‘how-to’ guide on represent oneself in the Family Courts as a litigant in person.  Hmmm, however good any book like this is, it doesn’t feel like ‘access to justice’ to me.

May 22, 2011

Concessions expected in legal aid bill due next month

Watch this space on the 30th May.  Rumours that definition of domestic violence will be broadened.  Perhaps common sense will prevail.

Concessions expected in legal aid bill due next month | The Law Gazette.

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May 14, 2011

Leave a Voicemail | Sound Off For Justice

A new way to get one’s point across?  Leave a voicemail for Ken Clarke with your views on the Legal Aid cuts!

Leave a Voicemail | Sound Off For Justice.

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