Fair access to the legal process is a cornerstone of a democratic society. This means that legal aid has to be available to enable those who would otherwise be denied access to the courts to put their case.

Of course there has to be regulation and some assessment of merits (more likely to succeed than not) but then the level of legal aid must be adequate for a proper case to be argued and for lawyers to get a reasonable (not lavish) return.

This means:

Abolish fixed fees

Abolish the new rule that payment is only made on conclusion of a case.

Why is this idea important?

Fixed fees are an invitation to incompetent and unscrupulous practitioners to make money by signing up too many clients, doing the minimum and claiming the fee. Rich pickings are available to lawyers unscrupulous to 'sack' clients at a crucial stage after payment has been triggered but before much work has been done.

Payment delays mean that the best and conscientious practitioners are heavily disadvantaged.

This is particularly true in 'Cinderella' areas of law like asylum and mental health.

The recent failure of Refugee and Migrant Justice has served no-one except tabloid headline writiers. It has led to huge numbers of very vulnerable and disadvantaged people losing representation and to many experienced, competent and conscientious practitioners losing their jobs. It has not led to any savings on the public purse. It has seriously undermined the credibility of our legal system.

This is not the sort of society that I want to live in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *