We All Need Good Legal Advice
Legal aid is under review and may end for most family cases, clinical negligence and employment law in England and Wales but remain for criminal cases.
Critics say the package of measures will be disaster for the public.
Legal aid will no longer be available in the following areas of civil law, Private family Law, Employment and Education Law, Clinical Negligence, Immigration and some Debt, Housing and Benefit Law.
The government say that domestic violence cases will still receive legal aid and expand the definition to include mental and sexual abuse.
Justice secretary Ken Clark told MPs our current system of legal aid too often encourages people to bring their problems to the courts, even when they are not the right place to provide good solutions and sometimes for litigation that people paying out of their own pocket would not have perused.
Legal aid has expanded into areas far beyond its original scope. It is now amongst the most expensive system in the world. In the current fiscal climate, this is simply unsustainable.
Legislation also includes measures already announced to change the system of no-win no-fee cases. The changes will mean that anyone suing, such as a clinical negligence case, will have to find a solicitor to take their case on a no-win no-fee basis.
If they win, their solicitor will be entitled to charge a success fee of up to 25% of the damages. With the present system, the success fee is recoverable from the losing defendant.
Annual profits have more than doubled at insurer LV= despite a further increase in personal injury claims and attempted fraud.
Legal fees in settling motor personal injury claims cost £1,666 every minute in the UK.
John O’Rourke, managing director of LV general insurance said “The challenge for the industry is that it’s very difficult to disprove a false claim”.
The company says that its policy is to settle valid claims in full as quickly as possible, while at the same time adopting a rigorous and challenging approach to fraudsters.
Legal aid covers many areas of the law Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said we strongly back the government’s commitment to ensure that rogue employers determined to operate outside of the law are not allowed to unfairly undercut business rivals by exploiting their workers. We agree absolutely that the most vulnerable workers – those most likely to be exploited by unscrupulous bosses, must be effectively protected.
But abolishing legal aid for employment cases is no way to achieve these very laudable aims. If the legal aid cuts go ahead, Citizens Advice Bureau will no longer be able to offer the specialist advise and case work that helps to resolve more than 3,000 employment problems every year, most involving vulnerable workers, in low paid, low skilled work, who have nowhere else to turn for help.
The government still has time to rethink these plans and prevent legal aid cuts undermining efforts to promote growth through a strong and efficient labour market and to create a level playing field that is fair to workers and decent employers alike.
At a time of economic uncertainty and big changes in work, welfare and public services, people need advice more than ever. The government has to make sure advice is there for those most in need of help.
There cannot be justice for all without a workable civil legal aid system. Civil legal aid keeps people in their homes, in their jobs and out of debt.
These cuts will leave hundreds of thousands with nowhere to turn for help. Serious cases of family breakdown, unfair dismissal and refusal of benefits will simply get worse.