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Early legal advice

  • Early legal advice helps address problems before they escalate and can prevent cases going to court unnecessarily.

    We’re campaigning for legal aid to be reintroduced for early legal advice, particularly in family and housing law.

    The problem

    The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) introduced funding cuts to legal aid, meaning fewer people can access free legal advice.

    Since 2012, legal aid has no longer been available for early advice, including housing and family law.

    Without legal aid for early advice, legal problems can escalate unnecessarily and cause issues such as poor health, debt and homelessness. As a result of escalating legal problems, a lack of early legal advice can increase taxpayer costs and the burden on the courts.

    Our recommendations

    We believe the government should reintroduce legal aid for early advice from a lawyer for housing and family cases.

    What’s changing

    In February 2019, the government reviewed the legal aid changes in LASPO and published a Legal Support Action Plan.

    As part of this, the Ministry of Justice recognised our call to reintroduce legal aid for early advice.

    The government plans to pilot the expansion of legal aid to cover early legal advice in an area of welfare law related to housing.

    Campaign highlights

    • November 2018 – several MPs mentioned our campaign and its key arguments in a parliamentary debate on the future of legal aid
    • June 2018 – we presented the results of the research we commissioned from Ipsos MORI to the UCL Access to Justice and Legal Services Conference. Download the presentation slides (PDF 368 KB)
    • June 2018 – over 1,000 members wrote to their local MP or the Lord Chancellor about our campaign
    • February 2018 – we held an event in parliament to update MPs about our early advice campaign and 20 MPs showed their support for our campaign recommendations
    • January 2018 – our campaign was mentioned in ‘Justice Oral Questions’ in parliament and in oral questions throughout 2018 and 2019
    • December 2017 – the shadow secretary of state for justice mentioned our campaign in the Huffington Post
    • November 2017 – our campaign was mentioned on Radio 4’s Today programme, in legal press and we received coverage online on Buzzfeed and The Guardian
    • November 2017 – we published research from Ipsos MORI which shows a link between receiving professional legal advice early and resolving a problem sooner. Read the research report (PDF 418 KB)
    • November 2017 – we launched our campaign

    Get involved

    To raise awareness of our campaign, you can:

    If you’re an MP, you can:

    • write to the Lord Chancellor to call on the government to reintroduce legal aid for early advice in housing and family cases
    • table parliamentary questions to gather evidence of the benefits of reintroducing legal aid for early advice in housing and family cases

    Email us for further information