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There are solutions to the legal aid crisis

To celebrate SJ's 160th year of publication, authors will be taking a contemporary look at historic events reported in Solicitors Journal's rich history. See the original story here.

23 February 2016

Legal aid was introduced in the dark days of post-war austerity with public support. The Rushcliffe Committee was published as the precursor to the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 and it made clear that advocates who were funded to represent defendants via legal aid should receive adequate remuneration because the adversarial 'system of trial depends entirely on both sides being adequately equipped to present their cases'. Our version of austerity has been mild in comparison and yet cross-party political support for legal aid has been lacking.

However, although polls have found 84 per cent of people say legal aid and a fair trial are a fundamental right and 89 per cent say its availability is important, legal aid and welfare have been conflated in the minds of some (due to adverse press and fuelled by some irresponsible politicians).

Legal aid is not a welfare benefit. It is a legal right...

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