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Government should reconsider legal aid proposals, says Human Rights Joint Committee

Changes needed to ensure ‘effective access to justice’

The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Human Rights has said that the Government should reconsider its proposals for the reform of legal aid.

The Committee's recently published report considers proposed changes to civil and criminal legal aid.  The committee fears that without broader exemptions to the proposals, a residence test for civil legal aid could lead to breaches of the fundamental right of effective access to justice in individual cases.

The Committee:

The Committee is also concerned about the proposal to remove cases with borderline prospects of success from legal aid funding, as these cases may include determination of significant human rights issues. The Committee concludes that this may raise equality of arms issues, and lead to a potential problem in relation to the creation of precedent to guide lower courts which will in turn affect a large number of cases.

The report is available here.