Post by Patrick Torsney on Sept 14, 2011 12:29:06 GMT
The Tonight Programme ITV1 Thursday 8th September at 7.30pm
Plans to cut the legal aid budget by £350 million could mean thousands of people -- including victims of medical accidents -- missing out on financial help to fight civil lawsuits.
Critics have warned that in cases of clinical negligence, many people won't be able to afford to pursue the life-changing damages they desperately need.
On Tonight's programme Morland Sanders asks... What Price Justice?
Morland meets Andrew Green, a victim of clinical negligence, who personally delivered a letter of protest to No. 10 Downing Street about the proposals to cut legal aid. 14 year old Andrew suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of a difficult birth but this doesn't deter him from fighting for people's access to justice.
Many others have received legal aid to enable them to fight for justice. In this programme we hear from the likes of Paula, who has two children with cerebral palsy due to birth injuries. She has used the settlement they received to provide a better home for her children. Sheema, who is currently fighting for justice for her son, Colin, who can now afford a state of the art wheelchair which allows him greater freedom and independence. Ray, who is now able to afford to pay for physio and a carer for son Alexander. Shahana, who spent 11 years fighting for compensation for her daughter with her case going all the way to a court hearing.
However, with a Legal Aid budget of £2.2 billion -- one of the highest in the world, the Government have had to make difficult decisions and it's estimated that taking clinical negligence out of scope for legal aid will save £17 million.
In place of Legal Aid, the Government are encouraging victims of clinical negligence to use 'No Win, No Fee' lawyers, but there are also proposals to cut the amount that lawyers are being rewarded for their successful claims. Last year, the NHS had to pay out over £172 million to claimant lawyers whereas they paid their own lawyers £69 million.
Morland also meets with former CNN journalist Andrew Brown who had surgery to remove a tumour on his spinal cord, however a blood clot formed causing severe injuries and leaving him paralysed. His case was taken on a 'No Win No Fee' basis but, due to the proposed reforms to the system, it could be that solicitors would be reluctant to take on a similar case in the future.
Over the coming weeks, a committee of MPs will continue to scrutinise the Legal Aid funding proposals before reporting back to the House of Commons in October -------------------------------------------
Whilst it remains online, you can watch the original on ITVPlayer: