There is a risk that the bad news about the impact of the Transforming Legal Aid proposals on civil legal aid will be buried by criminal practitioners’ (justified) outrage about compulsory competitive tendering.
Under the civil proposals, those unable to prove 12 months’ lawful residence in the UK are excluded from civil legal aid altogether, on the basis that they lack a strong connection to the UK, subject to some vague exceptions. Similar exclusions are mooted for private rented housing and GP treatment.
The reforms will effectively remove access to the courts from some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Past legal systems have excluded aliens, Jews, prisoners and slaves from legal rights. Can we allow this to be emulated in 21st century Britain?
Sue Willman, Deighton Pierce Glynn, London and Bristol