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Law without lawyers?

A family disputes portal in the Netherlands, open to both legal aid and fee-paying clients, could be showing us what the future of law looks like, says Jean-Yves Gilg

25 March 2014

A family disputes portal in the Netherlands, open to both legal aid and fee-paying clients, could be showing us what the future of law looks like, says Jean-Yves Gilg

Access to justice, in the current debate over legal aid, has been articulated primarily in terms of access to a lawyer. Lawyers know the law. They can leverage its potential in support of the weak. They are the gatekeepers.

No surprise, then, that they have been targeted by the government in its relentless drive to shrink the legal aid budget: cut down the bill by cutting out the lawyers - directly, by slashing fees, or indirectly by taking matters out of scope.

But in its hardline, single-track approach, the government has removed access to lawyers without replacing it with anything.

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