As we emerge from the pandemic LawWorks continues to work on policy areas around pro bono and access to justice (see also our round-up from earlier this year).
Our colleagues at the Legal Aid Practitioners Group have been supporting a Parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of legal aid - the Westminster Commission on Legal Aid. LawWorks engages in policy work around legal aid in order to emphasise that we do not see pro bono as a replacement for publicly funded legal services, and we continue to make the case for improved funding for access to justice. We have therefore provided a submission to the Commission.
The Justice Select Committee have also been running inquiries into the future of legal aid and the capacity of the courts. We provided evidence for both of these inquiries, working with our Litigant in Person Support Strategy partners on a joint submission for the courts inquiry.
- Submission to the Justice Select Committee: Inquiry on the future of Legal Aid
- LIPSS submission - comments on court capacity
The Select Committee has now published its report on legal aid. The report is hard hitting, warning of a serious crisis, and includes highlighting concerns from our submission about digital exclusion. Recommendations from the report for civil legal aid include:
- an early advice scheme with a wider scope; early legal advice should also be available alongside mediation;
- examining whether the model of the possession duty scheme should be used in other areas of the civil justice system where there are significant numbers of litigants in person (on a non-means tested basis);
- judges should be empowered to make a direction that an individual needs representation and that it should be binding on the Legal Aid Agency to provide exceptional case funding in that case;
- Government should also establish an Online Platform for Legal Advice, as suggested by the charity JUSTICE, that is given prominence by HMCTS online that directs people to legal aid providers.
Law Commission’s 14th Programme
LawWorks have responded to the Law Commission’s call for evidence and law reform ideas for their 14th Law Reform Programme.
Legal and advice sector roundtable
LawWorks have continued to work with the legal and advice sector roundtable on ongoing and emerging policy issues and challenges, including work across the sector to influence the next spending review.