Access to justice is on the verge of a crisis.
There can be no effective rule of law when we lack a fully accessible and affordable judicial system.
We have launched our campaign because:
By campaign, we mean an organised way to achieve a goal. We mean doing what lawyers do best: gathering evidence, presenting the facts, persuading. We will be focusing on three core goals, and need the help of our members to achieve them.
Affordable access to legal advice is a basic right for everyone but recent changes have made it more difficult to get legal help. We have submitted our recommended solutions to the government.
The High Court has rejected a legal challenge over the lawfulness of government changes to legal aid for domestic violence victims. Law Society president Andrew Caplen expressed his disappointment at the ruling: 'This change, introduced by the government, is yet another example of the draconian cuts affecting vulnerable clients.'
Our poster and leaflet explains the areas of law where legal aid is still available and how to find help.
We have also published an online guide to legal aid and the eligibility criteria.
The Office of the Children's Commissioner has published an assessment of the impact that changes to legal aid have had on children since 2013.
A year on, have the legal profession's doom-laden predictions about the impact of deep civil legal aid cuts been realised? The Law Society Gazette looks at the evidence.
Our evidence covered inadequate exceptional funding procedures, problems with domestic abuse evidence requirements, concerns about the mandatory telephone gateway, the impact on legal aid providers, and the rise in the number of litigants in person.
Andrew Caplen outlined the Law Society's concerns about the impact of changes to civil legal aid under part 1 of the Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
The report found that: 'The changes to civil legal aid introduced in April 2013 are denying access to justice to women experiencing violence, contradict the government’s commitment to end violence against women and girls and fail to meet obligations under domestic and international human rights law to respond to violence against women with due diligence.'
Lord Low, who chaired the commission, said: 'Our report makes sobering reading and we are calling on political parties of all stripes to recognise the need to act before we reach crisis point. All around the country we found advice agencies buckling under the strain, and ordinary people left with nowhere to turn.'
Public opinion has hardened against the government’s cuts to legal aid, according to the results of a poll published to mark the 65th anniversary of the modern legal aid system.
This report warned that the government's plans for legal aid would lead to knock-on costs and reduce access to justice.
As part of our awareness campaign, we've set up a guide for the public:
See the list of areas and how to check eligibility
A Justice Alliance video featuring Stephen Fry and Jo Brand explains how the government's changes to legal aid will put justice out of reach for many ordinary people.
The Access to Justice Committee is part of our Legal Affairs and Policy Board.
It promotes improvements in legal aid and access to justice and advises on policy formulation and negotiations with the Legal Aid Agency, the Ministry of Justice and the wider government.
It also provides support to practitioners who provide or wish to provide publicly funded work.
Further information and contacts