In Camoron’s first incarnation as the Nation’s Prime Minister he set about reforming the Legal System system, amongst others. In doing so he aimed to save about £450 Million from Legal Aid bills. This led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO coming into force.
This Act, which personally I had never heard of before, seems to only apply to Civil cases, but some of those Civil cases might affect us at some point in our lives. It has removed countless cases from the scope of the Legal Aid scheme.
LASPO reverses the position whereby legal aid is accessible for all civil cases other than those excluded by the Access to Justice Act 1999. Whole categories of law have been taken out of scope for legal aid; others only qualify if they meet certain criteria. The categories now out of scope include:
- Family cases where there is no proof of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction. There has been a 60% fall in family cases granted funding and two thirds of cases in the family court now feature somebody representing themselves.
- Immigration cases that do not involve asylum or detention
- Housing and debt matters unless they constitute an immediate risk to the home
- Welfare benefit cases; except appeals to the upper tribunal or high court
- Almost all clinical negligence cases
- Employment cases that do not involve human trafficking or a contravention of the Equality Act 2010
The 4 out of 6 that I have highlighted are the ones that are most likely to affect us at some time. Don’t think that Criminal Law has escaped either, as from last April the government has cut the Criminal Legal Aid budget by £215 Million as well.
To clarify, this is what I wrote about the (then) forthcoming changes on another site;
“Changes to legal aid
Welfare benefit appeals
You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts. So, once again our caring sharing government has excelled, not only do they slash benefits, ATOS assessments abound, everyone being forced off the rock and roll, but we’ve taken away the only way an unemployed/ill person can use to challenge that decision. Without a sudden increase in charitable funding, how are these folk going to pay their legal fees to challenge what they undoubtedly see as an unfair assessment etc etc? Surely this is akin to the school bully nicking your dinner money and then tying you up so you can’t tell anyone? Or is it just me that thinks that?
You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home
You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:
- there’s serious disrepair in your home
- you’re homeless
- you’re being evicted from your home
- the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.
You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.
Private family law
You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:
- dissolution of civil partnership
- financial disputes
- property disputes
- disputes over children.
If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.
You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:
- have been detained
- make an application under the domestic violence rules
- make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.
You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.
Consumer and general contract law
You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases
You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.
Clinical negligence cases
You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.
What will you still be able to get legal aid for
You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:
- care proceedings
- family mediation
- asylum applications
- mental health proceedings
- community care cases
- discrimination. “
I seem to recall reading somewhere previously that we can no longer get Legal Aid to challenge Government Decisions but as I write I can’t quite lay my hands on that gem, or I might just be getting old. I did however find this which might mean that I’m NOT going senile.
“In a judgment handed down on 3rd March 2015, the High Court ruled that regulations brought in by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, in April 2014 to cut legal aid funding for judicial review are unlawful.
The case hinged on the MoJ’s decision to restrict legal aid for Judicial Review challenges of decisions made by public bodies”
Now we’ve had our General Election and the country voted. They voted Tory and brought in a (small) majority government with Camoron at the helm.
One of his avowed policies is to scrap the Human Rights Act. By doing so he will be removing the following collection of Rights from the Statute Book
- The right to life
- The right not to be tortured
- The right not to be a slave
- The right to a fair trial
- The right NOT to be punished if you haven’t broken the law
- The right to private family life
- The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
- The right to freedom of expression
- The right to marry and start a family
- The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
- The right to education
- The right to free elections
- The right NOT to be given to death penalty
Some are clearly more important than others, and I’m certainly not saying that these rights and this Act won’t be replaced by something else, but what guarantees do we have? Do we trust a Tory government not to weaken our basic Human Rights? Will there be a replacement Act? Why replace the one we have?
People of Britain this is what you got when you voted. Personally I’d rather not replace something unless it’s broke. In terms of Public Protection we seem to be considerably worse off than we were.