The government has announced that it is to restrict the availability of legal aid for certain kinds of case.
This not only represents the latest attack on the poor by a Government of millionaires but also prejudices the Article 6 rights of those of limited means to achieve a fair hearing.
Campaign now to oppose the cuts in Legal Aid
Jackie Sheridan commented
This is another facet of the erosion of human rights in contempory 'Bleak Britain' under the current harsh tory regime, along with disability rights, benefit shrinkage and the destruction of the NHS.
Sue Powell commented
This is an outright attack on the right of every UK citizen to access justice - especially the poorer sections of the population. Legal aid in areas of civil law - employment, housing, family law, social welfare and medical negligence - has already virtually disappeared. Who wins in these proposed cuts? The govt of course, as it is less likely to be faced with challenges to its authority and decisions. And possibly the big firms - G4S, Serco, Capita, even Eddie Stobart? - bidding for the new legal aid contracts.
Ian F commented
The problems of fairness, equality, and the cost of legal aid could all be improved if legal fees were more reasonable. There is no need for barristers to charge as much as they do. Lets block up the courts by representing ourselves.
Kate Adams commented
The plan to restrict legal aid is an attack on democracy. If we don't allow the poorest people access to justice through public funding we will have total inequality. While the government will have access to lawyers at tax payers' expense and a minority can afford to pay privately many will be able to challenge unjust decisions that seriously affect their quality of life. The imposition of a residence test discriminates against non citizens, this is extremely worrying as access to the law is a universal right. Those affected include traffciked people, separated children, survivors of domestic violence and detainees. One of the cuts will be the right to legal aid for bail which surely is a breach of Article 6 -the right to a fair trial- UK Dtention Centres will even more closely resemble the notorious Guantanomo Bay prison. Everyone must oppose this plan in the name of freedom and justice.
Now there even further cuts proposed in the form of tendering for criminal legal aid.What this means in reality is that firms will have to bid to be the lowest cost provider in their area. Whilst it has implications on 1000's of jobs the bigger picture is that it is going to remove the choice of solicitor for anyone arrested for a crime rightly or wrongly and that you will simply become a number who must be dealt with as quickly as possible without someone taking the time to represent you to the best of their skill and ability. Throw all of this into the changes which have already happened for civil legal aid and you will have a justice system on its knees.
Supporters of this suggestion should also support this one too:-
This is already happening people!! The Civil Procedure Rules have been violating Human Rights from at least 1998 when they were conceived as a way to get round the Human Rights Act, which didn't become 'law' until October 2000.
Why can't we have a legal system like the USA, where you can get lawyers on a No Win, No Fee basis for any case, and the jury decides what their payment should be, not the lawyers?
The United Nations has already told all of its Member States through its 'General Comments,' issued by the various Human Rights Treaty 'review bodies', that the Right to a Fair and Public Hearing, is absolute and is necessary to "safeguard the rule of law".
In General Comment No.32 of 2007 on this very topic (which replaced No.13 of 1984 also on the Administration of Justice) they also said that "Article 14 contains guarantees that States parties must respect, regardless of their legal traditions and their domestic law."
The Article 14 referred to is that contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was derived from Article 10 of the UDHR which put it in simpler terms by saying that "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him".
So the UK has never had any right to deny anyone a proper hearing and equality of arms by denying them 'legal aid' or by developing a 'legal process' that is dependent on 'Form filling and Fees' before Human Rights are considered. These are just Legal Traditions of Domestic Law and are Invalid.
The UK is also party to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and its Article 27 also states that:-
"A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty", which ever UK Government has been failing to comply with for decades.
How many UK or English lawyers have ever tried to fight any case on these facts?
It is another way to Seperate the rich from the poor, everyone should be entitled to a fair trial.
Kevmarie Llewelyn commented
we should organize a demonstration just as we did in the eighties when they were trying to close the law centre
With no legal aid for some people, then things like Habeas Corpus would become meaningless, then things like star chambers would be used for courts instead of lawful courts. I mean the implications of this ARE DANGEROUS TO THE HUMAN RACE. It is an unlawful process to refuse someone legal aid whilst giving someone else legal aid (usually because they have money to BUY it).
IF THIS IS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN THEN WE WILL NO LONGER GET FAIR TRIALS OR TRIALS AT ALL BEFORE IMPRISONMENT!
Juries are legal aid. Legal representitives (ie, solicitors and laymen) are legal aid. This will maintain that only those who can afford a lawyer will get legal aid, leaving the poor to get poorer and to be exposed to summary judgement (which is unlawful) to decide their fates.
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A SUPER-NANNY POLICE STATE! MARK MY WORDS! x
A close friend of mine was working for legal aid, and her passion for law and helping others was abruptly stopped when these cuts fell into place leaving her jobless. Despite the fact she was left unemployed, the real tragedy lies in the thought that she can no longer change the lives of numerous families that she had achieved to do so her whole working life. The Government should be carrying out theirs cuts in areas such as nuclear arms, rather than in social welfare.
September 22, 2011 9:16 a.m.
I have respect for those in need and wish the legal aid system to be fair for all. Now I use the word "fair" as it is abused by some. My current partner is going through a messy divorce ...... her ex is on legal aid whilst he remains living in their property. He changed the locks so she could not gain access and harrassed her day and night.
He set out his stall early saying he would drag out the divorce as she would run out of money eventually !! He is true to his word and has been dragging out proceedings now for 3½ years !! As my partner is privately funded she is finding the financial burden a huge strain and close to deciding if it's economically viable to continue.
So why does the legal aid system bankroll an individual to bankrupt another ?? Complete waste of taxpayers money in this case but how often does it get highlighted ? There could have been many thousands saved in solicitors fee's not only from the public purse but also from my partners wages ( money that she will never get back ). Ironic that she works, earns a wage that goes on solicitors fee's and is taxed which helps pay for the legal aid system that is being used unfairly against her. Maybe she should stop working and then claim legal aid so she can continue to defend herself ?
3½ years and still no end in sight ....... we need to sort out this type of case to allow those that actually need legal aid would have access to the funds they deserve.
Rant over !
PS: UPDATE -- her divorce is still going on now 4½ YEARS and yet legal aid are still funding her ex ?????!!!!!!!?????
He has changed solicitor about 5 times and claiming he was suffering from mental health problems --- a psychiatrist report found their was nothing wrong with her ex !!!!!! but he managed to delay proceedings by 6 months.
Talk about taking the p**s out of a system that's only too happy to hand out tax payers money even although he has been delaying and lying for this length of time --- makes me sick thinking about the waste os money !
They really do not want the people to hold to account them (the 1%) and their subservient organisations filled with yes men: wage and mortgage slaves all.
I believed that Legal aid is very important for the less fortunate to know and understand there
HANDS OFF the help of LEGAL AID for the less fortunate!!!!!!!!!
I Agree upon the Need for the Right to Legal Aid as a Human
Malcolm Martyn commented
I am sorry to say that I have personally witnessed thousands being used by a family I know on pointless cases that are a waste of this resourse. They just glory in the waste too. This is a problem that needs sorting out as im sure its as wide spread as benefit fraud which they are also guilty of. If they can sort this out we could probably safe guard legal aid for honest people for about 40,000 years currently its all farcical. It should be saved but with a half wit o meter to weed out abusers
Anoymous from 25th.... you are simply wrong. The firm gets paid £46 per hour on legal aid. If you do legal aid, you now cannot do much private better paid work because there is soooo many people trying to see too few of us that are left.
At the rate we get paid, it is about the same as an electrician, less than a plumber or bricklayer. I never hear people calling them fat cat plumbers!! It is harsh when people who are ignorant of the facts judge us by the contents american dramas they watch on tv. Anonymous needs to come and sit in my office for a bit and watch us dealing with hysterical clients who are afraid, angry and going through the worst time of their lives, then when we go home we cannot afford to pay our bills. Maybe I should learn to do plumbing?? and give up helping the poor??
Sara Bowen commented
Anonymous legal aid is not just used for criminals it is vital for many others to include assistance with housing debt family and many other matters. It is a useful tool to those who cannot fund the real fat cats pockets.
I work in a legal aid firm and I can tell you now there are most certainly no fat cats in our firm I could work in Tesco or in a factory and earn a lot more. But I continue to work there out of the care I have for those who cannot afford legal fees. When deciding whether I can take on a case I always need to ensure sufficient benefits and cannot spend public money unless I can justify it.
In the future I suggest you do your research before calling us fat cat lawyers. I have two degrees and get paid the same as those who have not done any degree. We do this job because we care not because of the money.
Legal Aid just lines big fat lawyers pockets at there 100 pounds per hour. If your guilty just plead it. You dont need legal aid then and you will get a lower sentence. Legal Aid should be scrapped.