Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Lawyers on the march
Supporters of the campaign group Justice for All will be joining the TUC march taking place this Saturday to protest over the proposed cuts to legal aid. LAG is one of the original members of the steering group for the campaign and is urging anyone concerned about legal aid and access to justice to join the march behind the Justice for All banner.
Lawyers, advice workers and others working in legal aid services will be marching to highlight the government plans to cut civil legal aid. Housing, family and debt cases are among those targeted for the cuts. Legal aid for some areas of work, such as employment and education law, is set to be cut completely if the government goes ahead with its plans.
'It is very important that the potentially devastating cuts to legal aid are not lost in the bigger picture of the government cuts. These proposals will dramatically undermine access to justice for the most vulnerable members of society at just the time they need help to assert their rights. Everyone who cares about legal aid should join this protest and make their voice heard,' said Edward Kirton-Darling, a solicitor and a LAG board member. Edward Kirton-Darling will be attending the march with colleagues from the firm Hodge Jones & Allen LLP.
Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) will also be joining the march: 'It is important that we take every opportunity to tell the government that the brutal cuts proposed for legal aid are counterproductive and dangerous. YLAL members are committed to social justice but by slicing the legal aid budget in half, justice will become the preserve of the rich leading to increased financial and social costs. We hope the march will highlight just how many people care and will be affected by the cuts if the government chooses not to consider alternative ways to deal with the deficit.'
Justice for All marchers will be assembling from 10.15 am outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London. They will move off around 10.45 am to join the main march which is due to leave from Victoria Embankment between the Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges at 11 am. The march will then make its way through central London ending with a rally in Hyde Park. This is due to start at 1.30 pm.
LAG learnt last week that the response to the consultation on the proposed cuts published in November last year will not now be released by the Ministry of Justice as had been expected before Easter. Publication is not now anticipated until after the local elections and the referendum on voting reform taking place on 5 May. The first reading of the bill, which will include the reforms to the legal aid system, is also expected in May.
Image: Lady Justice delivers a Valentine's Day card from Justice for All to Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke last month.