Post by Patrick Torsney on Apr 18, 2012 13:29:53 GMT
John Wotton, Law Society President said:
“The House of Lords amendments, while they would cost the Government very little, improve the Bill substantially and would provide legal aid for cases involving some of the most vulnerable individuals. The Government's concession on domestic violence, while falling short of our proposal is to be welcomed. We remain to be convinced that the Government's suggestions with regard to welfare appeals will make much practical difference.
"I trust that, notwithstanding the Government’s outright rejection of the remainder of the Lords' amendments, peers will reinsert them when the Bill returns to the Lords next week and the Government will finally be persuaded to accept them .
“I am most disappointed by the Government’s rejection of the amendment to Part 2 of the Bill which applies to mesothelioma cases and very surprised by the ABI’s assertion that this is somehow good news for victims. How can it be good news for victims of this type of chronic industrial disease that they will have to surrender up to 25% of their damages to cover costs, even when their former employer is found liable for their injury?”
On the specific issue of the welfare benefits amendment, the view of our policy officers is the following:
The concession is very limited. I doubt that there are any figures as to how many cases would benefit from it. The number of cases going to a second-tier appeal (a few hundred) may give some indication but the concession is more limited than that because the first-tier judge would have to certify that the law is unclear. It wouldn’t help cases in the first tier where the first tier judge makes an error of law that would give rise to a second tier appeal.
It would probably be better to retain the current position of legal aid for advice rather than representation at first tier appeals, rather than representation for a very small number of cases, so I don’t think we would want to encourage the Lords to accept this concession in return for dropping their original amendment.