LCHR urges Labour Party to commit to a fully-funded legal aid system

Labour Campaign for Human Rights backer Andy Slaughter: "Legal Aid has been cut below effective levels."

The Labour Party is being urged to commit to a fully-funded and reformed legal aid system by the Labour Campaign for Human Rights (LCHR). 

The LCRH has received backing from Lord Falconer and Andy Slaughter MP and is calling on the Labour Party to fully adopt recommendations from the Bach Commission on Access to Justice.

The Bach Commission on Access to Justice has received the backing of grassroots groups and politicians within the Labour Party to combat government cuts to legal aid which has affected millions of vulnerable people across the UK.

Labour MP and former barrister Andy Slaughter said: “It is obvious to everyone that Legal Aid has been cut below effective or sustainable levels.

“The Government’s own review confirms it, but they won’t act. The Bach Commission recommendations are a route to restore access to justice, and Labour should adopt them as firm proposals for government.”

While the Conservatives have been in power, the number of cases assisted with legal aid has dropped from over 900,000 (2009/10) to less than *150,000 (2017/18). 

Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon MP, committed to reform in 2018, but no further action has been taken as of yet. LCHR are now calling for the Shadow Justice team, and the Labour Party, to adopt the recommendations in full as party policy and to include them within the party’s next manifesto.

The recommendations include legislating for a new Right to Justice Act, which would establish a right to reasonable legal assistance that would be legally enforceable in the courts, as well as broadening the scope of civil legal aid and the legal aid eligibility rules, which would allow more people to access legal advice across the UK.

Former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Falconer, has also backed LCHR’s position stating: “It’s absolutely critical Labour commit to restoring levels of legal aid which mean the poorest do, genuinely, have the protection of the law. At the moment only the rich have those protections” 

“It’s critical that safeguards are built in which stop any future government from dismantling those protections. That’s why the Legal Protection guarantee that Lord Bach proposed should be made law as soon as Labour get to power.”

The proposal has also received the backing of other grassroots groups within and outside of the Labour Party, including the Fabian Society and Society of Labour Lawyers.

Danny Thompson is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter here.

*This article was corrected on 3rd July to note the cases of legal aid dropped to less than 150,000, not 15,000 as previously stated in error.

6 Responses to “LCHR urges Labour Party to commit to a fully-funded legal aid system”

  1. Tom Sacold

    This really should be a no-brainer for Labour as long as it is fully funded and for British citizens only.

  2. nhsgp

    Please Labour, increasing funding or we will have to send out kids to state schools and mix with the plebs.

  3. Dave Roberts and read the article on One Law for The Rich etc. It’s all here. Maybe the great and the good should now back this guy as the next MP for Limehouse and Poplar in London’s East End or will they back some yuppie SPAD?

  4. Ultraviolet

    nhsgp You should thank God that people don’t discuss the NHS in terms of “fat cat doctors”. Legal aid lawyers earn around #35k per year once they are well established in their careers. I bet you can’t show me a GP who earns less than double that.

    But the bottom line is, legal aid is about ordinary people being able to enforce their rights. If the rates paid aren’t sufficient for the small businesses and charities most solicitors work in to be economically viable, people won’t get the services they need.

  5. Dave Roberts

    One of the things the article I linked to does is to stress how Labour controlled councils can be the provider of basic legal services. In Hackney last week the Labour council spent a fortune on Gay week to the extent of painting zebra crossings in gay stripes while cutting cash for the local law centre. Disgusting.

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