Personal injury solicitors are amongst those who have called on the government to pause the legal aid reforms that will deny justice to the UK’s most vulnerable members of society.
The Law Society has echoed the pleas of the medical profession that have put a temporary block on NHS reform, and launched a scathing attack on Kenneth Clarke’s plan to remove funding from cases such as medical negligence and welfare.
The largest professional body of lawyers in the UK has written to the justice secretary saying the proposals will fundamentally reshape the legal aid system, which provides help to the most vulnerable in several areas of law, and remove these services from its scope.
Linda Lee, the president of the Society, said she fears the proposals were drafted in haste and the far-reactions impacts were not fully taken into consideration. Furthermore, the proposal to change “no win, no fee” arrangements will make it more difficult for victims to lodge personal injury claims.
Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, has also urged the government to rethink the legal aid proposals to avoid damaging vulnerable groups. He explained that the basic pillar of the UK legal system is that access to the law is available to everybody. Taking that right away from vulnerable groups is denying a basic right to people who need it most.
The Ministry of Justice has calculated that its measures would mean 500,000 cases would no longer be entitled to legal aid. The Legal Action Group disputes this, estimating the figure at more like 650,000. This could lead to an increasing amount of claimants clogging up the courts as “litigants in person”.