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Government ‘Cannot Ignore Growing Opposition To Legal Aid Reforms’

Bill Goes Before Lords Committee


Increasing cross-party opposition to the Government’s planned reforms to legal Aid and civil justice show that ministers have got it wrong and need to re-think their plans urgently before some of the most vulnerable people in society pay a heavy price, according to an expert at Irwin Mitchell.

The plans to cut legal aid in areas including clinical negligence, housing, welfare and employment have faced widespread criticism from peers including influential Conservative peer Lord Tebbit in the past month, while the Joint Committee of Human Rights has also raised very serious concerns over the implications they could have on access to justice.

Andrew Tucker, Chief Executive of Personal Legal Services at Irwin Mitchell, said the opposition demonstrates that there is a clear need for a rethink on the issue, as the Bill goes before a Lords committee today for the first time.

He said: “We work daily with clients who have only been able to access the justice they deserve thanks to Legal Aid, yet there is a significant danger that the cuts in Legal Aid will prevent many from ever being able to take their case forward.

“Combined with the Government’s plans to reform no win no fee agreements, we and many other groups believe the reforms will have a devastating effect on access to justice for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“It is now increasingly apparent that well-respected peers of all parties are deeply concerned about the potential unintended consequences of this Bill.

“They join many charities which work with victims of serious injury through clinical negligence or injured through no fault of their own in expressing deep disquiet over the Government's plans.

“These proposals simply go too far and favour the interests of defendants over those of seriously injured people who are most in need of help from the law. We would urge the Secretary of State to think again before the damage is done.”