Magna Carta today?
Access to justice has been seen as a fundamental right in Britain from Magna Carta onwards, predating the establishment of legal aid to ensure that no one would be ’financially unable to prosecute a just and reasonable claim or defend a legal right’ in Britain by more than seven centuries. By aiming to ensure that citizens have effective access to their rights, including their welfare rights, legal aid has been described as the foundation of the welfare state.
In this paper from Unite the ability of citizens to access justice is assessed in the wake of the Coalition's ‘Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act’ and shows how government reforms have severely limited capacity in the advice and legal aid sectors resulting adverse effects for at least 623,000 people. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for the next government that could restore and promote human rights within the justice system.