Conor Gearty: Legal Aid Changes – UK Constitutional Law Group

Posted June 10th, 2013 in demonstrations, legal aid, legal representation, news, tenders by sally

“The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has already brought to an end the availability of legal aid across a whole range of areas of law that have direct relevance to the poor. Under cover of generalised claims about opportunistic litigation, the goal has clearly been to remove the capacity for challenge to the implementation (whether lawless or not) of the coalition’s various attacks on benefits. The same legislation also withdrew state support from foreign nationals in prison who are threatened with deportation, as many are – regardless of how long they had been here and how British they are in fact. The idea behind this change was to prevent resistance to removal by showing an infringement of the right to respect for private life in the Human Rights Act (a matter on which government now also intends to legislate separately). In both these cases, the government appears close to accepting that their goal is to prevent meritorious cases getting to court, on the ground that the laws that make them meritorious (human rights legislation; equality law; the common law of procedural fairness) are not laws they like. They have been tempted to remove the litigants rather than the laws, hoping there’ll be less fuss.”

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UK Constitutional Law Group, 10th June 2013