Here’s a round-up of some of the legal aid stories that have appeared in the press today:
Civil legal aid changes: the impact on women and children
The Guardian runs an in depth story focussing on how the legal aid changes will deny justice to vulnerable women and children, including women who have come to the UK to join their partners and who have been subjected to domestic violence, women who have been trafficked to the UK and been exploited whilst living here, or children who are separated from their families and are seeking asylum in the UK. The article draws on the stories of people who have been supported by charities such as The Poppy Project, Southall Black Sisters and Kalayaan, who have helped them find legal aid lawyers to fight their case.
Criminal legal aid changes: miscarriages of justice
The Independent reports that the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), whose job it is to investigate miscarriages of justice, has warned the government that the risk of miscarriages of justice will increase if the proposals are implemented. The CCRC has also warned that the need to review and investigate miscarriages of justice would cause additional costs to the taxpayer.
Costs saving and the reputation of the UK justice system
Concerns about whether the proposals will in fact achieve any cost savings, are echoed by The Lawyer’s Catrin Griffiths who points out that the increase in people who are not represented will mean that cases will take longer and are more likely to be appealed. Also writing in The Lawyer, the Chairman of the Bar Council Maura McGowan QC appeals to the Ministry of Justice to consider the alternative cost saving measures the Bar Council has suggested rather than “destroy the best justice system in the world”. The knock on effect that the changes will have on the UK justice system as a whole is precisely why Griffiths argues that lawyers working in the City should also be as concerned about these proposals as everyone else.