Just Access calls on the UK Government to secure the future of criminal legal aid in England and Wales.
Just Access joins the Law Society of England and Wales in calling on the Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk, to implement the judgment of the England and Wales High Court of 31st January 2024, by:
- Implement, at a minimum, the 15% rise in the rate of legal aid recommended by the Bellamy Report in 2022;
- Review the impact of inflation on the legal aid system since the Bellamy Report, and adjust legal aid rates accordingly;
- Assess other fee- and non-fee-related barriers to access to justice in England and Wales, in order to ensure that everyone has access to the courts on equal terms.
Access to justice is an essential component of human rights and the rule of law. Legal aid contributes to access to justice by ensuring that criminal defendants receive competent and timeous legal advice, and that individuals suffering abuses of their rights have access to the mechanisms to enforce their rights, whether as a result of governmental human rights abuses, medical negligence, housing or immigration disputes, or relationship abuse.
Dr Tom Sparks (LLB, PhD), Director of Just Access, said:
“It’s thanks to the selfless efforts of many dedicated individuals in the UK that the criminal justice system has continued to function, but the Government’s cuts to legal aid have stretched the capacity of the system to its breaking point.
“The UK Government must properly fund legal aid in order to ensure the rights of vulnerable people to access to justice.”