Barristers reveal true impact of LASPO
Who's really paying the price for cuts from LASPO 5 years on? The Bar Council recently ran a Twitter campaign under the hashtag #LASPOstories, revealing real-life stories of the impacts of LASPO on individuals of all walks of life.
The campaign came ahead of the Government’s review of LASPO, which the Bar Council will be responding to.
Below are some examples from barristers at the coal face on what impact legal aid cuts made under LASPO are having on their clients, many of whom are vulnerable people, including women in custody, the homeless and children.
“100s of people have committed suicide in prison since LASPO. Legal aid to challenge prisoners' treatment in custody removed by LASPO for adults & children. Only 2% (approx) of criminal legal aid spent on prison cases.” Felicity Williams, Barrister at Garden Court Chambers.
Immigration: “Those who are vulnerable &/or have mental health issues are vulnerable to a system where legal advice can come too late. There are no good or bad migrants, just migrants & all should be treated equally under the law.” John Nicholson, Barrister at Kenworthy’s Chambers.
“Access to legal aid for immigration cases has been taken away for everything bar asylum cases. If you are about to be deported & cannot access legal aid what can you do? Legal aid should be automatic in those cases, but it's not.” John Nicholson, Barrister at Kenworthy’s Chambers.
"There are knock on effects of LASPO for housing. It can increase homelessness. People affected may have defences but they do not know about them.” Jim Shepherd and Martin Westgate QC, Barristers at Doughty Street Chambers.
“Since LASPO, no legal aid for representation in employment law cases. The discrimination legal advice phone service is not fit for purpose. Employees with mental health issues, pregnant & others who can't afford a claim against employer affected.” Catrin Lewis, barrister at Garden Court Chambers.
“Legal aid withdrawn in cash seizures = injustice for individuals. Technical area of law+ high evidential burden on the individual. Cash can be held for 2 years w/ relatively low threshold. Previous means assessment helped those worst affected.” Cat Collins, Barrister at 33 Chancery Lane.
LASPO impact on families: "There are children who are seeing parents when they should not be and children who are not seeing parents when they should be as a result of LASPO.” Shiva Ancliffe, barristers, and contributors, Coram Chambers.
Impact of LASPO: “Litigants in person, those trying to represent themselves vs an employer & their legal team, are often poorly prepared. Employment tribunal hearings, therefore, take longer &, as a result, store up costs elsewhere.” Catrin Lewis, barrister at Garden Court Chambers.
Impact of LASPO on those in custody: "Women with backgrounds of abuse, hardship & mental health problems are the most vulnerable to poor custodial treatment and are in a poor situation to seek legal action against it.” Felicity Williams, Barrister at Garden Court Chambers.
LASPO reduced legal aid for inquests. Lack of early legal advice prejudices interested persons in pre-inquest stages and there are delays when adjournments granted during proceedings to obtain advice/evidence. More lawyers are advising on a pro bono basis.” Cat Collins, Barrister at 33 Chancery Lane.
“Pre-LASPO legal aid provided low cost advice on complex benefits problems from Citizens Advice etc. Post-LASPO: many deprived justice & underpaid; knock-on costs where benefit problems lead to health problems, family breakdown." Tom Royston, Barrister at Garden Court North Chambers.
“There are more Rule 16.4 guardian applications being made by courts since LASPO because parents pursuing private family cases need the child represented by Cafcass or a local authority, storing costs up elsewhere.” Shiva Ancliffe, barristers, and contributors, Coram Chambers.