LAPG Co-Chairs, Jenny Beck and Nicola Mackintosh, QC (Hon) and LAPG Director, Carol Storer OBE, have written to the Right Hon David Lidington following his appointment as Lord Chancellor.
13 June 2017
Dear The Right Hon David Lidington MP,
We congratulate you on being appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss access to justice issues.
We are Legal Aid Practitioners Group, a membership organisation, which works constructively with the Legal Aid Agency and the Ministry of Justice on legal aid matters. Our membership covers those who work in private practice, chambers and not-for-profit organisations across England and Wales and specialist costs lawyers.
If you would like to visit some practices we would be happy to arrange that for you.
We are concerned about a number of issues but all can be summarised by the term access to justice. Before the election, Ministry of Justice staff were working on the LASPO Review and we urge you to proceed with that as soon as possible. We draw your attention to the concerns expressed by the Justice Committee in their report about how LASPO has failed to achieve three of its four objectives and only partly achieved the fourth.
This country needs the legal aid system to be targeted fairly. More resources need to be put into early advice rather than emergency intervention (the latter being one of the stated aims of LASPO). In particular the system needs to assist those who face significant barriers to the justice system: disabled people, children and young people as well as those suffering from domestic violence and homelessness. Vulnerable clients must be able to obtain advice and representation without the difficulties they currently face.
We would be delighted to provide more detail in a meeting.
We look forward to working constructively with you.
Jenny Beck, Co-Chair
Nicola Mackintosh, QC (Hon), Co-Chair
Carol Storer OBE, Director