Report and Pictures: Legal Aid Rally to celebrate 64 years – 30th July 2013

Gemma reports on the Legal Aid Rally, and is pictured withma very shady character!

Thoughts on the Criminal Justice System

As I wrote this morning, Legal Aid turns 64 – http://gemmab82.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/64-years-of-legal-aid.

Hundreds of lawyers, campaigners and individuals gathered outside The Old Bailey in London to help celebrate Legal Aid and hear how it can save people’s lives.

When I'm 64

We were being watched by Lady Justice herself. She stood up there for all of us, not just the rich.

LadyJustice

I arrived early and watched Justice Alliance set up for what would turn out to be an amazing rally. Today really showed strength and unity. There were lots of organisations, law firms and individuals coming together to support the cause.

We heard from Anne Hall, who I had the pleasure of speaking to before the event. She is a lovely woman who really values legal aid. Her son, Daniel Roque Hall, was a disabled prisoner, who was ignored by the prison service. He needed emergency care, but complaints were completely ignored. The only…

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64 years of Legal Aid

Gemma looks back on 64 years of Legal Aid

Thoughts on the Criminal Justice System

Today, 30th July 2013, marks 64 years of Legal Aid. We will Rally for Justice this afternoon, and here’s why:

Legal Aid gives everyone access to justice, which provides a vital safety net and makes our society a civilised one. In a democratic society, we all have a right to access justice and a right to a fair trial. Without legal aid, some are unable to resolve their legal problems.

The turning point was 64 years ago with the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949.

Sometimes a legal aid funded case can:

– change the law;
– transform public opinion;
– influence government policy; and
– directly affect society.

Legal aid funds advice, help and representation to help people with their legal problems, such as:

– Actions against the police
– Clinical negligence
– Crime
– Debt
– Domestic abuse
– Education
– Employment
– Family
– Housing
– Immigration

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“If I hadn’t had legal aid I would be dead now”

Well. A promising response from Lord McNally. He and @mojgovuk can be sure that we will be keeping a close eye on them to see if the words are more than just words.
Well done to SaveUkJustice

Save Justice

This morning we went to meet Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice, with two women who have received legal aid. We wanted the Minister to hear from people who have received legal aid directly what it means to them. As we were waiting to enter the Ministry of Justice we spotted Chris Grayling, so we hand delivered the clients’ letters to him too.

Laila’s story – fighting to be safe from persecution

Laila's letter to the Ministers
Laila’s letter to the Ministers

“I came to this country from Somalia to seek protection. When I made my asylum claim I was put in detention and my case was processed in the Fast Track system. Everything happened so quickly: after just two weeks my case had been refused. The Home Office did not even allow me time to get any evidence to support my case. I did not speak any English then and I did not really understand what was happening. Later…

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Question and Answer: ‘Transforming Legal Aid’

Gemma conducts her own consultation amongst various viewpoints within the profession. Well worth a read

Thoughts on the Criminal Justice System

As Parliament is off on its summer holiday (lucky for some), I thought the time was appropriate to reflect on what some of you think about the Government’s proposed legal aid reform, ‘Transforming Legal Aid’. The purpose of this blog is to gain a perspective and clear vision of your views, and potential ideas for a stronger / better reform than the one currently proposed. I understand most views will be different, but as they say “it’s good to talk”.

Twitter has played a huge role in communicating and reporting during the Save UK Justice campaign, so I decided to send out a tweet asking if anyone would like to participate in a Q&A.

I’d like to thank everyone who took part. The contributors responded to that tweet and their answers are below. Responses are posted with permission. Please could you respect the contributors’ opinions and post constructive comments only.

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A Note of a Meeting with the Lord Chancellor

A note of the Circuit Leaders’ meeting with the Lord Chancellor. He begins with the astonishing claim that the Bar are failing to engage. Not for want of trying Lord Chancellor, as MTQC will confirm. We have indeed put forward many proposals for saving waste and needless expenditure, which you appear not to have read yet.
He also wants to save money by cutting down on needless mentions, seemingly blissfully unaware that we are not paid for these anyway.
Is patently clear from this account that he is woefully underbriefed.
Read and decide for yourselves

A view from the North

I understand this note was compiled by the Leader of the Midlands and Oxford Circuit

NOTE OF MEETING WITH LORD CHANCELLOR

LC began by saying that he was surprised that the Bar was not engaging in the consultation process with him. He said that this in distinction to the Law Society who had come up with a set of proposals and were actively debating them with him.

We pointed out that we were engaging with him. The Bar was responsible for a large number of the responses that he had received to his consultation document and contained many reasons why what he proposed was not in the public interest. The responses contained a number of ways in which significant sums could be saved without cutting legal aid payments. We said that we were not prepared to engage in, for example, a debate as to how standards could be maintained in…

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A Fourth Letter to Lord McNally

Our world is all the richer for the deep vein of satire that the MoJ’s fumblings have inspired.

A view from the North

My Dearest Tommy,

May I first apologise for the frequency of my correspondence? I know now that it was how often that I felt moved to write to Richard Madeley that led to the injunction. I do appreciate how a mountain of correspondence can become tiresome in itself. I hope that the photos of me enjoying the sunshine whilst shopping in Tescos that I sent you on Snapchat have added some moments of levity to your day in these times of austerity.

However I could not let recent events pass without comment. You will, of course, recall what you said last week about litigants in person,

“There have always been a significant number of people representing themselves in court – they did in around half of all child custody cases last year – and we provide information and guidance to help them. Evidence shows that cases where people represent themselves…

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Guest Blog – Transforming Legal Aid: Meeting with Laura Sandys MP for Thanet South

Oliver Kirk, of BKRW Solicitors, is a very welcome returning guest to the CBA Blog. He was in the vanguard of High Street Solicitors in the fight to #saveukjustice.
Here is his account of his meeting with Conservative Thanet MP, Laura Sandys. Once again he puts the case, and puts right some of the inaccurate briefing that Tory MP’s are given by the MoJ.
To give Laura Sandys her due, she seems to have listened. Well done Oliver.
And you can follow him on Twitter as well @kirkabout

Thoughts on the Criminal Justice System

Guest Blog by Oliver Kirk (@Kirkabout)

Today, 16th July, I met with Laura Sandys MP in the lobby of Portcullis House.

I attended both in my capacity as her constituent and also a representative of Kent Law Society. It had originally been envisaged that Mr Oliver Saxby, Queens Counsel, would also be present in his capacity as Chair of the Kent Bar Mess to make representations on their behalf. Sadly, he was unable to attend, but gave me a useful checklist of matters to be raised.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and the impression that I gained was that there is genuine concern about the effect that PCT might have, we are operating in an environment where cuts are a given. I am afraid that she did tell me that we have the “most expensive legal aid system in the world” but I have put her right on that…

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