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Not waving but drowning

The government’s cuts to legal aid are ill-thought out and disadavantage the most vulnerable members of society, ?says Lewis Forrest

28 September 2011

The legal aid system was introduced in 1949 with a view to being ‘law’s answer to the NHS’. The poorest members of society who could not afford to pay for legal advice were to receive public funding to see a solicitor and be represented in court. However, the system has been under threat for some time and, in November 2010, cuts were announced that raise fundamental questions about access to justice for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. It is estimated by some that around 750,000 people will be deprived of public funding by the proposals.

State intervention

The government believes public funding should only be available to cases where the individual’s life or liberty is at stake, they are at risk of serious physical harm, they face being made homeless, or face state intervention that could lead to a child being removed from their care. Therefore, family cases suc...

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