Reflect, Rethink, Reverse

14 December 2012

Reflect, Rethink, Reverse or destroy access to justice for all warns CILEx President.

Nick Hanning media pagesThe President of The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Nick Hanning, has called on the Government to “Reflect, Rethink, Reverse” to avoid a perfect storm that he believes will destroy access to justice for all.

In a speech delivered to the CILEx Bournemouth and District branch on Friday (7 December 2012), Mr. Hanning outlined the concerns he has for the future of legal provision in England and Wales from April 2013 onwards.

  • Legal aid is being slashed. Not only from family work but from core social needs areas such as welfare benefits and housing.
  • New costs rules come into effect which will are likely to cause chaos and satellite litigation.
  • The Ministry of Justice portal will be mandated for practically all personal injury claims coupled with a 60% cut in the fixed fees.

Speaking on legal aid he said: “Removal of legal aid support for advice on our most basic social needs is a shameful abdication of state responsibility for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.”

Commenting on Portal Fees he added: “There is no evidence or any rational justification for the reduction in portal fees. The imposition of those arrangements may well mean huge numbers of innocent victims of accidents will be unable to pursue legitimate claims. It will almost certainly mean those claimants will not have their claims handled by properly trained legal professionals.”

And sharing concerns over the court system, Mr Hanning warned “Already judges have to cope with an unprecedented rise in self-represented litigants and this is set to increase further. Hearings will take longer, more hearings are likely to be needed and cases will take longer to get through the system. Justice delayed is justice denied. And access to justice means access to justice for all, not just for those who can afford it.”

Speaking to guests at the dinner, Mr Hanning confirmed that on these issues he stands side by side colleagues in other legal membership organisations: “The Law Society describes the civil justice system as being on the brink of a meltdown and has called for changes to be postponed. I agree. In fact I go further and suggest a new set of the three Rs; Reflect, Rethink and Reverse.

“Time and time again, CILEx, the Bar and the Law Society have told the government that the proposals are flawed, that the savings are illusory and, above all, that access to justice is threatened. It is not too late. Reflect, rethink, reverse.”