Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Access to Justice

As the exams approach, I will be teaching some of my students about "Access to Justice" - which is part of the AS syllabus for law. One of the problems with Law is that it can be expensive to bring an action to enforce your rights, or to defend yourself if accused of a criminal act.

Legal Aid has been available in England since 1949 (previously there was some free work done by lawyers, and Trade Unions provided assistance for their members). It has increasingly come under pressure. Costs have risen, whilst there has been pressure to reduce the total amount available. Some people have found it difficult to get funding - which is a denial of justice.

Currently legal aid is administered by the Legal Services Commission. There is some excellent information available on their website. The Citizen's Advice Bureau has a useful website explaining the various forms of provision.

Recently the Ministry of Justice produced a consultation document about the future provision of legal services Their approach is to make the civil system more efficient, and therefore cheaper to use. The Consultation Paper can be accessed here.

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