Chair criticises 'glacial pace' of LASPO review

8 March 2018

Responding to news this week that the Government's review of LASPO will be delayed until the end of the year, Chair of the Bar Andrew Walker QC said it is frustrating that the review is moving at such a "glacial pace".

He said:"The long-awaited LASPO review is an opportunity for the Government to take stock of the damage caused to some of the most vulnerable people in our society by the removal and restriction of legal aid in the civil and family law arenas.

"For the many thousands of people who are no longer able to obtain legal advice, or to use the courts to enforce or defend their rights, the hope is that a sober assessment of LASPO will prompt reform and a recognition of the need to reverse the more corrosive and self-defeating aspects of LASPO.  They can only be disheartened by news of a further delay.

"It is already perfectly clear that the LASPO cuts went too deep, have been too harmful, and went far beyond the savings that the Ministry of Justice had planned to make.

"It is also clear to many that the cost to society, and the public purse, of the withdrawal of legal aid has been far greater than the savings made.  This is most obviously the case when those in need are unable to obtain early legal advice, particularly in areas such as welfare and housing. For this reason alone it is frustrating that this review is moving at such a glacial pace.

"Our system of justice will not be focused effectively on the citizens it serves, as the Ministry of Justice intends, without some recognition of all this and a commitment to redress it.

"When the review does start, it is vital that the Bar Council and other interested organisations are invited to play a meaningful role, and are listened to." 


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