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Thursday, 27 October 2011

How do we judge cuts?

A couple of weeks ago I raised the question of cuts to public funding and the knock on effect to Access to Justice. I was adding my voice to those arguing that this was a false economy; in both social and economic terms. One major fear concerns the capacity of the courts to cope with the inevitable increase in unrepresented parties before the courts.

This concern was shared yesterday by the country's leading judges.

Lord Hope, one of the Supreme Court judges said -

"It doesn't affect us [in the supreme court] but lower down the system it has a major effect. I well understand the huge concern about public expense but people who take these decisions must understand that narrowing legal aid has a cost implication on the system and its efficiency and quality."

Our Senior woman judge, Lady Hale added - 

"The judges, of course, worry about the extent to which denying people access to legal representation and legal advice will … change radically the role of the court in seeking to do justice. I think all the judges are worried about this."

I hope that this contribution will help the penny to drop with the MOJ and the Treasury. Restricting funding for representation will lead to a cosmetic saving in the legal aid budget. But there will be a far greater cost to the Administration of Justice alongside diluting the system for which we have been rightly proud.

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