Transforming Legal Aid

Consultation response 

Transforming Legal Aid – June 2013

CILEx’s response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ highlights:

  • There is no empirical evidence provided to support the claim that the public have lost confidence in the legal aid system.
  • Client choice is widely regarded as an important driver of quality in the justice system. CILEx is alarmed that the Government is prepared to sacrifice this important principle.
  • The proposal to remove funding from borderline Judicial Review cases is wholly unacceptable and risks undermining this crucial way of ensuring that state power is exercised responsibly. There are already procedures in place to filter out weak and unmeritorious applications.
  • Innocent people may be pressured into pleading guilty.
  • Cutting legal aid to those who do not satisfy the arbitrary ‘residence test’ would force particularly vulnerable individuals to go to court on their own to argue complex cases. Self-representation would be further complicated by language barriers and a range of issues commonly experienced by asylum seekers such as experience of trauma, mental and physical health problems, and isolation and cultural unfamiliarity with legal processes, making asylum seekers particularly vulnerable.
  • The introduction of such radical changes through secondary legislation so they will not be subject to proper debate and scrutiny in Parliament is enormously concerning.

You can read the full response here.