The Bach Commission’s final report on ‘Access To Justice’ (published 22-9-17) has been tabled at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week. It represents the view that the legal aid cuts of recent years have significantly eroded access to justice and proposes a ‘Right to Justice Act’ to get things back on track. It calls for ‘a significantly simpler and more generous legal aid scheme with evidence for civil and criminal applications to be simplified and relaxed.’
The Law Society’s Christina Blacklaws said, “The report reinforces the central message of Chancery Lane’s own recent report on access to justice. If people cannot access advice or protect their rights, then effectively those rights do not exist.”
In a Government statement, Justice Minister Dominc Raab said, “We spent £1.6bn in legal aid last year, a quarter of the Ministry of Justice’s budget. We will continue to focus legal aid on those who most need help, recognising the cost of this support is met by the taxpayer, even as Labour produce yet more unfunded proposals.”
Whichever side of the political fence you sit upon, focused debate on legal aid at this level could be good for the profession. Let’s watch this space with a keen eye.
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