North East solicitors Sweeney Miller are backing calls to ensure access to justice for all in the wake of cuts to legal aid.
Proposals for a set of minimum standards to ensure access to justice for all have prompted the Law Society to warn that the justice system is at breaking point and that civil legal aid cuts will ultimately cost tax payers more than they will save.
Responding to an interim report from the Bach Commission on Access to Justice, Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: ‘The right to British justice should apply to everyone who is subject to the laws of this country irrespective of background or income. This is sadly no longer the case.
‘Successive governments have repeatedly cut the legal aid budget and the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) was expressly designed by government to restrict the availability of legal aid to a limited number of serious cases.
‘There has been a drastic decrease in the numbers of people entitled to legal aid because of the scope of the cuts, yet there is also a growing dossier of evidence proving that legal aid changes have failed to meet the government’s plans to reduce costs.’
In its submission to the commission during the Spring, the Law Society warned that civil legal aid cuts would result in an increase in costs to the tax-payer. That is because when things go wrong in people’s lives, they are not getting the expert legal advice they need – this can result in homelessness, family breakdown and health issues.
Early legal advice can help people sort out their problems and prevent them from having to rely on welfare support or involve the courts. This makes a real difference to them and also saves taxpayers’ money.
Sweeney Miller partner Paul Miller added: “Access to justice for all is a fundamental right and we are wholly behind the Law Society on this.”
From its office in Sunderland and Newcastle, Sweeney Miller helps clients access legal services including accident and personal injury, business contracts, wills and probate and conveyancing.