Irwin Mitchell Comments On Legal Aid And Sentencing Bill
Commenting on the Government’s announcement of cuts to legal aid and reforms to Civil Justice, Stuart Henderson, Managing Partner for Personal Injury at Irwin Mitchell, said:
“The Government just isn’t listening. Hundreds of different groups have warned that its proposals will be a hammer blow to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, yet the Secretary of State is pushing on with his devastating reforms regardless of the consequences and delivering a major double whammy to consumers.
“Not only is he slashing Legal Aid but he’s also attacking access to justice through a radical restructure of legal funding which will force thousands of injured people to pay significant sums in legal fees out of their hard-won compensation. This will deter many from bringing legitimate claims.
”Shockingly, the worst hit will be seriously injured people and victims of some of the worst medical accidents in the NHS, including seriously brain injured children. Legal Aid provides those children with a means to access the lifetime of round-the-clock care that they need and these cases account for half of the all the damages paid out by the NHS. To pull the plug on that is morally wrong.
“Lord Justice Jackson, who the Government has made much of supporting, said Legal Aid should not be cut in areas such as clinical negligence, so too did the Judges’ Council and the NHSLA itself. Even the Lord Chief Justice is reported to be against the plans, yet the Government is ignoring them all.
He added: “Day after day, we work with clients who face long and difficult legal battles to access justice so that they have the chance of life transforming awards of damages.
“In many of these cases, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to bring those cases without the support of Legal Aid or No Win No Fee agreements, but now the civil justice system is being decimated by these plans and injured victims will pay the price. The winners from that will be defendants; the losers will be those who most need help from the law.
“The Government has got it badly wrong here and is at risk of taking a serious backward step. The Secretary of State should spare a thought for the people who will suffer, listen to the widespread opposition to his plans as he has done on sentencing and think again before it is too late.”