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Categorized | Civil Liberties, Legal Aid

Sound Off for Justice

Sound Off for Justice

You’ve probably seen the press adverts already. They ask if you will be silenced by cuts to Legal aid. “The Government is planning cuts that will deny millions of people access to justice. Don’t let this happen. Sound Off for Justice.”

Sound Off for Justice is a campaign aimed at ensuring that the most vulnerable and needy in society continue to have access to justice and legal aid. “We aim to put pressure on the Government to reconsider the proposed cuts that will deny millions of people with significant legal problems access to legal representation. Legal Aid support in cases of medical malpractice, employment and education are just some of the areas to be taken out of scope should the current proposals be taken forward in legislation expected later this year.”

The campaign recognises that the economic climate means that tough decisions need to be made and draws attention to the Law Society’s alternative proposals that will save £384 million from the legal aid budget. This is £34 million more than the government wants to save. The difference drawn is that the Law Society’s proposals will continue to protect the members of society who cannot protect themselves. Their proposals for the positive reform of legal aid would make the necessary savings whilst retaining the key areas that the current government plans want to remove. “This offers the government a very clear alternative to the proposals they have on the table at the moment.”

Amongst those supporting the campaign is Sadiq Khan, Shadow Lord Chancellor & Justice Secretary. He said: “I accept that there should be savings, but I disagree passionately with the way this government is going about doing it, especially in relation to the cuts in social welfare and those who are the most deprived in our community. The unintended consequences of what they are doing are going to be quite severe. What Ken Clarke needs to do is think again – this isn’t the way to do it.”
Lord Bach is calling for a full debate in parliament and society about legal aid before the cuts are rushed through. He also warns about the unintended consequences in cutting social welfare laws: “Social welfare law ensures that families and individuals with legal problems can have them solved before they get much worse and lead to much greater expenditure on behalf of the state.” Lord Bach continues: “Sound Off  for Justice is a sensible, realistic proposal for cutting the amount of legal aid that we spend. What is the point of a legal aid system that does not protect the most vulnerable in our society?”

So what is a Sound Off? According to the campaign’s website it is any action that supports their campaign. You can join them on facebook or twitter. You can sign their letter to Ken Clarke or leave a voicemail for him. And you can lobby your MP. The campaign’s rallying cry is: “For 800 years the UK has taken pride in being a fair society where justice is for everyone – not just those who can afford it. The Government must not be allowed to play havoc with this ancient right when it is their responsibility to protect and uphold it. Join the fight to protect your right to legal aid and justice. Sound Off for Justice. Don’t be silenced in court.”

The campaign’s website can be found at:
soundoffforjustice.org

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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