Our submission focuses on questions included in the call for evidence on legal independence and access to resources.
We note that the government is currently reviewing the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), and is expected to report by the 2018 summer recess.
LASPO has had a major impact on access to justice and the ability of the individual to access the courts, a fundamental human right. The Law Society is concerned that:
- legal aid is no longer available for those who need it;
- those eligible for legal aid find it hard to access it;
- wide gaps in provision are not being addressed; and that
- LASPO has had a wider and detrimental impact on society.
In June 2017, we published our own review of LASPO, ‘Access denied? LASPO four years on’, which assessed the changes introduced to legal aid under the Act. The report made 25 recommendations to government and highlighted concerns regarding LASPO in three areas:
- on access to justice;
- the impact on the wider justice system; and
- the knock-on costs for the public purse.
We believe that lawyers must not be hindered or intimidated when carrying out their professional duties and acting in the best interests of their clients within the law.
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