I want to give special word of support for those lawyers who attended the Vote for Justice Rally in London yesterday.
The event was organised by the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association (CLSA) and London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association. The aim was to put justice on the General Election Agenda. The focus was on the devastating cuts to legal aid funding. Speakers at the event highlighted the risk of closure faced by hundreds of law firms.
One particular change will require tendering for some areas of criminal work. Tendering will benefit a small number of large firms, and see many others going out of business.This in turn will impact on the rights of clients to choose their own lawyer. Firms employing black and minority lawyers will be particularly at risk of closure.
One key speech came from Senior Judge, Sir Alan Moses. He talked of the plight who are unable to protect themselves as they have no affordable access to a lawyer. He expressed regret at the silence most of the leading political parties in the run up to the election –
“Who cares about the prisoner whose rights are abused and needs legal advice and assistance? Who cares about the immigrant who asserts they are a genuine refugee? Those who cannot afford access to the courts are often the unpopular minorities and there are no votes in helping them.” He also regretted that other judges had not spoken out.
This is something that I mentioned last week. The Green Party is alone in promising to re-instate the £700m cuts to the legal aid budget.
In fairness the Labour Party has promised to roll back the tendering process but this has only been a small part in a process of dismantling access to justice.
The politicians might not think that justice is of electoral importance. We can make it important by the way we cast our vote. It is not for me to say who anyone should support. But it w