02 August, 2019
The Legal Aid and Advice Act received Royal assent on the 30th July 1949. Ultimately, the aim was to introduce a consistent approach in England and Wales to help and support those who could not afford legal advice or representation and provide them with access to justice.
Legal aid was and still is fundamental in creating a society that values equal opportunity and protecting human rights. The principle is as good today as it was when it was first introduced.
However, now that we are celebrating the 70th Birthday of Legal Aid there are calls for an overhaul of the current system as cuts and legislative changes over the last few years have left many in situations where they feel they could not get the help that they needed. Richard Miller - Law society has said "The government really hasn't got to grips with the scale of the crisis" and that there are major issues in funding.
The figures are that there has been a 37% drop in Legal Aid spending from 2010/2011 to 2017/2018.
There are now stricter thresholds of eligibility for Legal help, which for family law cases, relate to a lower income and risk of domestic violence.
Sir Andrew Macfarlane, senior family law Judge, has commented that the justice system may be under stress but it is the people propping it up who will collapse under it and that legal aid practitioners are key for people to access their human rights.
Let's see what other changes are in store for legal aid.