Legal Aid, Sentencing And Punishment Of Offenders Act 2012 Comes Into Force

Posted By Moosa Duke - 5th April 2013

The Law society has warned of the risk of people taking the law into their own hands, now that legal aid is no longer available for cases involving divorce, child custody, clinical negligence, welfare, employment, immigration, housing, debt, benefit and education.

The government’s aim is to try and reduce the legal aid bill by £350m; the figure currently stands at £2.2bn. However experts warn that self-representation in courts may increase the length of cases, thereby increasing costs.

Richard Miller, head of legal aid at the Law Society stated ‘We have warned Government consistently that, as well as all the knock-on costs, the social consequences will be damaging to the whole of society, not just the vulnerable who will take the worst hit of all’.

Although proponents of the cuts argue that the legal aid system is causing too much of a strain on taxpayers, access to justice must not be restricted.

“As a result of LASPO, more people than ever before will find themselves going to court without legal representation. It is not just the view of the Bar – the Judiciary, the broader legal profession and legal advice centres are all saying the same thing”, stated Maura McGowan QC, chair of the Bar Council.

The Bar Council has issued a guide to representing yourself, including the advice not to copy TV lawyers because “judges hate it”.  This can be found at:

http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/instructing-a-barrister/representing-yourself-in-court/

http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/203109/srl_guide_final_for_online_use.pdf