Legal Aid

Call for delay to legal aid plans

PUBLISHED February 7, 2007

LONDON Senior judges have called on the Government to delay plans to reform the ?2 billion legal aid scheme, saying that they risk imperilling access to justice.

Sir Anthony Clarke, Master of the Rolls, urged a delay to the changes for civil cases to ensure that they did not drive out experienced solicitors. Sir Mark Potter, head of the High Court Family Division, said that he would like to see a year?s delay in reforms affecting family cases. The proposals risked rewarding ?the ineffective?, he said.

Fifty-two of 108 MPs who have signed an early day motion urging the Government to rethink the proposals are from the Labour backbenches. They are backing the Law Society and 20 charities and advice groups who say the plans will lead to the closure of hundreds of legal aid offices, removing access to legal help in many parts of England and Wales.