Although the proposed move would have saved the government millions, it has been widely criticised by the general public who feel that sufferers of clinical negligence are entitled to claim personal injury compensation. For many, the removal of the right to claim legal aid would prevent them from applying to the court for redress.
However, the Liberal Democrats and leading judges are still up in arms over Clarke’s other proposed changes to the legal aid system, including reducing the help available to the disabled.
Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said the U-turns were welcome, but more needs to be done. Clarke had also planned to get rid of the Youth Justice Board, which according to Khan is very successful in reducing youth crime. Again, a U-turn has taken place on that proposal.
The Labour Party agrees that a reform of the legal aid system is needed but the coalition is not going the right way about it and we will continue to fight what we think are unfair cuts until the government sees sense, Khan added.
The Legal Aid Bill may still fall at the final hurdle. The House of Lords wants to see various concessions made and with the current parliamentary session ending in April 2012, time is fast running out.