I'm in two minds about signing the sound off for justice petition because I'm not entirely happy that it talks about proposals to ensure that the "required savings" are achieved which is a bit ambiguous - does this mean the savings the Government requires, or is it accepting that the savings are necessary - if the latter I don't agree that we should concede this. What do others think?
They are saying that they concede savings need to be made, but not in the way that the Government proposes. The SOFJ campaign is pushing for Gov to listen the Law Society's proposals as an alternative to those they have proposed. It appears that the legal advice sector, at least those parts of it with any weight, has given up the ghost of trying to argue against the current ideology of cuts - actually, I don't think any of them ever tried to argue against it. This includes the advice networks and your network reps, professional representative bodies and even the Labour Party. This is probably through fear of being labelled 'deficit deniers' and, otherwise, being seen as too far outside current public opinion to be of any consequence
Post by Patrick Torsney on May 11, 2011 11:37:53 GMT
I've just sounded off for legal aid, you can listen to the high quality version of what I said here. It's quite thoughtful and considered - obviously you are going to need sound and, ideally, lots of it as the volume isn't that high - get it turned up:
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on May 18, 2011 17:27:58 GMT
Good to see someone with a SOFJ tee shirt in a prominent position behind Ken Clarke on the main news when he was being interviewed on the 6.00 main news over his embarrassing position on the rape debate; setting aside the issues of restorative justice - it's good to see a SOFJ presence coming to the fore.
Post by Patrick Torsney on Jun 7, 2011 20:56:32 GMT
SOFJ presents its petition to Cameron - asking him to intervene - at No.10 tomorrow. They only announced they were doing this quite late today. Seemed a bit odd, but must be some logic in there somewhere:
Here is the full text of the letter that was handed in today, below
The Rt Hon. David Cameron MP Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London, SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister,
This letter is a direct request for your intervention in the Ministry of Justice's plans for the future of legal aid entitled Proposals for Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales. At present, the proposals on how to make savings with cuts to Legal Aid are ill-conceived, unfair and will have a detrimental effect on justice in the UK.
We believe that the Government is undertaking these cuts in full knowledge of how disastrous they will be. The Government's own equality impact assessment has warned that the risks presented by these proposals will include "reduced social cohesion, increased criminality and costs to other government departments." We'd like your assistance in obtaining an explanation for these proposals and why suggestions for positive reform - that will make greater savings without compromising on care - have been ignored. We urge you now to review the proposals for positive reform. One of the biggest savings made with these alternative reforms is an efficiency drive, which is very much in line with Government aims.
We are asking you to acknowledge that vulnerable families, children, pensioners, the infirm and the unemployed will all be affected by the MoJ proposals, which contradict your recent statement that the vulnerable will not be left behind.
What the MoJ is currently proposing means that entire categories of problems faced by more than 500,000 people every year will no longer be eligible for legal aid. All cases to resolve problems caused by medical negligence; difficulties with employment, schooling, housing, debt and welfare; and most family and child access cases will be excluded.
If your child goes into hospital for a routine operation and becomes a victim of medical malpractice, you will no longer have access to Legal Aid to seek an appropriate degree of compensation.
If your child has special educational needs but the local authority is not meeting its legal obligations or denying you a place at a suitable school, you will have no right to legal help or representation.
If you live in rented accommodation and your landlord raises the rent despite what had previously been agreed, you're on your own.
If you're a divorced father wandering the emotional minefield of child access and you feel you are not getting enough contact with your children, your access to them and to justice is of no concern to the Government.
In all these situations vulnerable people who need help - people the Government should be protecting - will all effectively be silenced with no legal voice to contest their circumstances.
These proposals are also discriminatory and will entrench women's inequality; women are more likely to be unable to pay for legal advice, as a result they will be disproportionately affected by these reforms.
We find it hard to imagine a more insensitive proposal than one that removes aid from the most vulnerable members of society. However, we do understand that your government is committed to dealing with the deficit and that savings need to be made.
Therefore, we have an alternative proposal for reform that will not only make savings in excess of £380million (the MoJ proposal saves £350million) but do not effect an individual's access to justice.
The Government should know what the wider cost implications are should the legal aid service be compromised. The Lord Chief Justice has said he expects the courts will not be able to cope with the number of claimants who conduct their own cases without a lawyer.
The House of Commons Justice Select Committee said: "We are surprised that the Government is proposing to make such changes without assessing their likely impact on spending from the public purse, and we call on them to do so before taking a final decision on implementation."
This is why we are proposing alternative reforms that make the savings your Government so desperately requires while safeguarding civil legal aid and access to justice in the UK.
"Therefore, we have an alternative proposal for reform that will not only make savings in excess of £380million (the MoJ proposal saves £350million) but do not EFFECT an individual's access to justice."
(Hope I'm right that they're wrong now, otherwise I look like a humourless pedant :-/)
"Family Law" magazine cover the delivery of the petition against legal aid cuts to Downing Street
"Law Society march to Downing Street to protest against legal aid cuts
09 June 2011 Campaigners against legal aid cuts yesterday marched to 10 Downing Street to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging him to intervene over the government's plans to cut legal aid funding.
The Sound Off For Justice campaign, led by the Law Society, is lobbying the government over proposed cuts to the legal aid budget which they say will leave thousands of vulnerable Britons without access to justice.
The campaigners marched from Westminster and were joined by members of the shadow justice team including Sadiq Khan MP and Andy Slaughter MP, along with Lord Bach.
Signatories of the letter delivered to Number 10 include the 208,000 members of the Women's Institute, the one million members of the UK's leading parenting website Netmums, The Children's Law Centre and the Citizen's Advice Bureau's campaign, Justice For All.
The open letter asks David Cameron to consider the Law Society's alternative proposals that will save £384 million (£34 million in excess of what is being sought) by improving efficiency within the system, better use of technology, capping lawyer fees and greater scrutiny for abuses in the system and ensure cases involving education, unemployment, housing and clinical negligence can continue to rely on legal aid.
The letter was delivered to mark the first reading of the Justice Bill, expected in parliament over the next week, where the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, will outline plans to cut to legal aid in light of the 5,000 responses received following publication of its green paper on the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales. The march to Downing Street comes after a day of national protest on last Friday, where hundreds of voluntary organisations and community groups rallied to voice their disdain at the government's plans.
Commenting ahead of the march to Downing Street, the Law Society's CEO, Des Hudson said:"We're delivering this letter to Downing Street to show the government just how concerned Britons are about these ill-conceived cuts to legal aid services. These cuts will affect the most vulnerable people in our society, such as women trying to escape abusive marriages or children left permanently disabled because of clinical negligence. So we're urging David Cameron, Ken Clarke and the government to consider our alternative reforms so that all Britons can continue to access legal aid to help fight wrongful decisions in court"