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Government initiates call for evidence in crucial civil legal aid review

Government initiates call for evidence in crucial civil legal aid review


This move seeks public input to shape the forthcoming Civil Legal Aid Review

The UK government has taken a significant step towards reforming its Civil Legal Aid system by launching a call for evidence.

President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Nick Emmerson, expressed a positive response, stating, "We welcome the government’s call for evidence and will respond accordingly." Emmerson emphasized the Law Society's active role in contributing to the review, facilitating roundtables conducted by the Ministry of Justice throughout the UK. This approach allows members to directly engage with government officials involved in the review process.

Emmerson highlighted the critical role of a well-functioning civil justice system in sustaining the economic health and social well-being of the country. He underlined the importance of legal aid as an integral component of this system. While acknowledging the UK's historically esteemed justice system, Emmerson warned that without adequate investment, it could face deterioration.

The president of the Law Society drew attention to the economic challenges faced by providers of civil legal aid, resulting in a concerning trend of closures. Statistics indicate a 30% closure rate for housing and debt legal aid providers since 2018/19, coinciding with escalating housing costs and a cost-of-living crisis. Welfare benefit legal aid provider offices have experienced an even more alarming closure rate of 47.9% during the same period.

Emmerson concluded with a poignant reminder of the human impact, stating, "The people who are affected most by this are families facing eviction, victims of abuse seeking the protection they need, or a vulnerable person denied access to the care they’re entitled to."

In a call for decisive action, Emmerson urged the government to leverage this call for evidence to drive meaningful change. He stressed the need for substantial investment in civil legal aid to secure the future of this vital public service. The call for evidence marks an opportunity for the government to address the challenges faced by the civil legal aid sector and ensure its continued effectiveness in serving the needs of the public.