Bach adds bite to calls for urgent review of struggling legal aid system
A long-awaited report into the state of the legal aid system has thrown its weight behind a Law Society call for the government to review the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Prosecution of Offenders Act (LASPO) four years after its implementation.
Responding to Labour’s Bach commission, Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws said: "Lawyers have a moral duty to speak up when they fear justice has been denied or obstructed.
“This review adds yet more weight to the central message in our own recent report on access to justice - LASPO Four Years On - that cuts to legal aid have had a massive impact on people’s ability to enforce and defend their rights.
“If people cannot access advice or protect their rights, then effectively those rights do not exist.
"People in England and Wales whom parliament vowed at the time of LASPO should be able to access legal help are clearly unable to get the advice and representation they need.”
Among the Law Society recommendations adopted by the Bach Commission are proposals on reforming the civil legal aid financial eligibility rules, simplification of legal aid administration and the re-establishment of early legal advice particularly for family law.
Christina Blacklaws added: "We welcome action to ensure the continued viability of the legal aid profession, particularly in light of recent data which calls attention to the fact that increasingly it is no longer economically viable for solicitors to do this work.
"The commission’s proposals to enshrine the right to justice in statute through the introduction of a Right to Justice act, to be monitored and enforced by a ‘Justice Commission’, are interesting ideas that merit further consideration."
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