Kenneth Clarke has decided to push ahead with his legal aid reforms, a decision which has angered large sections of the UK community.
Mr Clarke confirmed that legal aid will no longer be available for the majority of medical negligence, family law, immigration and employment cases.
Liberty, the civil rights group, said this will mean that many people will be denied access to free legal advice and representation. The Justice Secretary claims that people’s fundamental right to access justice is being protected but Shami Chakrabarti, a director of Liberty, says the reforms are a slap in the face for ordinary people.
Roger Smith from the campaign group Justice said personal injury solicitors are only going to be available to the rich and people wanting to pursue personal injury claims will have to make do with cheap mediation services.
The charity Action against Medical Accidents pointed out that the government wants to save money and the only way these reforms can do that is by removing access to justice for victims of clinical negligence. As well as denying medical negligence victims access to justice, these reforms will deprive the NHS of the opportunity to learn where it went wrong.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said legal aid costs the public purse more than £2 billion every year in the UK. Our current system encourages unnecessary court cases and cutting legal aid aims to stop that happening. The government wants to encourage people to find other ways of resolving their problems without involving lawyers and court proceedings.
Over the coming weeks, there will be plenty more objections to Clarke’s reforms. Will the government listen and perhaps do another u-turn?