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Law Society review criticises Legal Aid amendments
In a report published this week, the Law Society has concluded that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) which came into force in April 2017 and which slashed civil and family legal aid, has denied access to justice to the most vulnerable in society and damaged the foundation of the justice system. LASPO aimed to cut spending on legal aid by £450m.
The report centres around the impact of the cuts on the ability of the public to defend or enforce their legal rights. It suggests the legislation increased pressure not only on the courts, who as a result deal with a larger proportion of litigants in person on a daily basis, but also on wider public services. The report concludes that:
- Legal aid is no longer available for many of those who need it
- Those eligible for legal aid find it hard to access it
- Wide gaps in provision are not being addressed
- LASPO has had a wider and detrimental impact on the state and society
The report sets out 25 recommendations to government, including increasing children’s access to legal aid, reintroducing legal aid for early advice and improving aspects of the application process, including the legal aid means test.
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