The Legal Aid Practitioners Group has drawn on the expertise and experience of its members to produce a ‘pragmatic and clear’ manifesto for restoring access to justice, lost following the 2012 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.
Writing in the foreword, LAPG co-chairs Jenny Beck, a leading family lawyer, and Nicola Mackintosh QC (Hon), an expert in community care and mental capacity law, say (p4-5):
“A whole generation of children is growing up knowing only one of their parents, or only one set of grandparents. People fleeing domestic abuse cannot obtain the protection they need…Unlawful decision making by public bodies goes unchallenged. The legal aid practitioners who provide the advice and the representation are at risk of extinction.”
The manifesto sets out detailed reforms in 16 areas of law, ranging from actions against the state, to crime, to mental health and welfare benefits, which would reduce expensive inefficiency and ensure people’s rights are better protected. It emphasises the urgent need to save money by simplifying processes.
LAPG director Carol Storer says:
‘The reality of the LASPO cuts has been worse than any of us could have imagined. We call on government to take heed of the expertise and insights legal aid lawyers can provide from their day to day work, and take urgent action to repair the damage to access to justice.’
LAPG’s proposals include:
- Reinstating early legal advice (page 11)
- Restoration of legal aid in some family, housing, welfare benefits, employment, inquests, prison and immigration law cases (chapter 8)
- A practitioner-led review of inefficiencies and waste in the criminal justice system (page 5)
- The Legal Aid Agency to be replaced to ensure independence of decision making (page 26)
- Restoration of funding in judicial review cases (page 6)
- A programme to publicise availability of legal aid to those in need (page 6).
Notes for editors:
- For more information, contact LAPG Director Carol Storer, firstname.lastname@example.org 07432104088 or LAPG Operations Director Chris Minnoch email@example.com 07967976774
- LAPG is a membership organisation which represents lawyers delivering publicly-funded services. It operates throughout England and Wales, and members include private practice and not-for-profit organisations, barristers and costs lawyers. www.lapg.co.uk
- LAPG’s 2015 manifesto is here.