Labour-backed report calls for more generous legal aid system
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"An additional £400m a year should be spent restoring access to a more generous system of legal aid, according to a Labour-backed report which calls for a legally enforceable right to justice.
The two-year-long review, led by the former justice minister Lord Bach, launches an alternative vision of equality before the law and condemns austerity policies that have imposed a disproportionate share of cuts on the legal system.
Commissioned by Jeremy Corbyn and launched on the eve of the Labour party conference, the study focuses criticism on the coalition governments Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (Laspo) Act 2012, which severely restricted eligibility and the scope of legal support.
When the government first introduced Laspo it estimated it would save £450m a year in todays prices, the Bach report says. Last year, legal aid spending was £950m less than in 2010. The Fabian Society estimate the costs of the proposals in this report will initially total less than this underspend, at an estimated cost of around £400m per year."
See: Labour-backed report calls for more generous legal aid system (The Guardian, link)
The final report of the Bach Commission (Fabian Society, link):
"The supreme court has recently and authoritatively restated our existing rights to justice, and the importance they hold. But the crisis in our justice system shows that the rights we have now are insufficient. We believe that a new statute is needed to codify our existing entitlements, and to establish a new right to reasonable legal assistance that people can afford. That is why we call for a new Right to Justice Act, which we believe should be monitored and enforced by a new, independent commission. We hope that this new act will help lift the provision of justice above the political fray."
- The right to justice: the final report of the Bach Commission (pdf, September 2017)
- Interim report: The crisis in the justice system in England & Wales (pdf, November 2016)
And: Justice is too precious for political football (The Law Society Gazette, link):
"There will be plenty to discuss. This is an outline design, not a blueprint. Everyone recognises that there were faults in the earlier regimes, and some of these faults unscrupulous lawyers were not slow to exploit. In every opinion poll, however, the consumer votes for justice, and our proposals put the interests of the consumer first."
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