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Universal Credit is the biggest change ever made to the benefits system. By 2022, more than 7 million households will be receiving it, over half of whom will be in work. The aim of Universal Credit - to simplify the benefit system - is right. But it is currently failing too many people and forcing many into debt. Universal Credit is currently being rolled out across the country, but this process is set to accelerate from October 2017. Citizens Advice has already helped 47,000 people with Universal Credit and our evidence reveals a number of problems which need to be addressed. If roll-out is not paused to allow this to happen, 7 million households face financial risk. Summary & full report available here.
(Author: Liz Gardiner, Legal Rights Adviser at Working Families) Working Families is the UK’s work life balance charity, and provides free legal advice by telephone and email for parents and carers about their employment rights. We have a particular expertise in maternity, paternity and shared parental leave rights, and flexible working requests. We offer parents advice on their legal rights, and pragmatic guidance on negotiating solutions to problems with their employers. We are also able to offer advice on in-work benefits. We run a dedicated network for parents of disabled children who work, or wish to work. We’re happy to provide second tier advice to advisers, or to parents/carers direct on our helpline 0300 012 0312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the publication of the Bar Standards Board’s guidance for the public and for professionals on immigration and asylum related issues in June 2017, translated versions of the guidance for consumers are now available. The guidance is available in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Pashto, Punjabi, Romani, Turkish & Urdu. Hard copies of the guidance are available on request.
Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) has a range of Practical Guides for individuals on the two key areas of their legal work: applications for bail to secure release from immigration detention, and challenging deportation on grounds of length of residence and family life.
Following the “Transforming our justice system” White Paper in September 2016, plans for a new Online Court are underway. HMCTS’ reform programme aims to streamline a number of different services online and provide more accessible ways for non-lawyers to commence and respond to claims. Moving proceedings online will especially impact the civil courts, where the number of litigants in person has risen sharply.
(Author: Toby Brown, barrister at South Square chambers and trustee at the Access to Justice Foundation) Many of you reading this will be aware of pro bono costs. But for those who don’t know, pro bono costs are the equivalent of normal legal costs, yet are available when the winning party was assisted by free of charge legal representation. Under section 194 of the Legal Services Act 2007 the losing party pays the equivalent sum of costs to the Access to Justice Foundation. The Foundation then distributes the funds to support organisations that provide free legal help to those in need. So the scheme levels the playing field for pro bono assisted parties in terms of costs risks and therefore can help parties settle, and produces extra money for justice. But why then are we not getting more pro bono costs?
UKAJI Research Roadmap – where have we been and where do we need to go with research on administrative justice?
Since starting work nearly three years ago, UKAJI’s primary tasks have been to bring together researchers, research users, policy makers, practitioners, and others to encourage more empirically based research into administrative justice and to design an agenda for future research. This blog post summarises their consultation paper, which results from that engagement. Responses to the consultation will contribute to the research roadmap they will propose for future research needs in administrative justice.
(Author: Rayla Javaid, RCJ Advice) The courts are now actively encouraging alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in civil matters to assist settlement. Pre-Action Protocol encourages early disclosure by the parties so that issues can be settled without the need to pursue litigation. Failure to do so will now inevitably lead to cost consequences as the courts will need to see that parties have attempted at the very least to engage in ADR such as mediation. This all leads back to the legal principle of proportionality.
(Author: Margaret Doyle, Senior Research Fellow, UK Administrative Justice Institute) ‘What is administrative justice?’ is one of the pages on UKAJI’s website most viewed by visitors. Does this suggest that readers don’t know what it means, or is it simply difficult to define?
Hosted by LawWorks CEO, Martin Barnes and delivered by Angus King, Solicitor at Lambeth Law Centre and Ian Peacock of Arden Chambers, this webinar covers the legal issues to address when a person applies to the local authority to be housed and the criteria set out in local allocations policies, including housing options and prevention of homelessness duties. The Webinar was hosted and facilitated by Lexis Nexis.
(Author: Joanna Sidhu, CrowdJustice) CrowdJustice is the only crowdfunding platform built for legal cases. Launched in May 2015, CrowdJustice’s mission is to increase access to justice by helping communities come together around legal issues that matter to them. The site gives people the tools to raise funds needed for a legal case, whilst raising awareness around specific issues and giving communities a voice. Along the way, CrowdJustice has helped raise over £3m to fund hundreds of cases, three of which have gone all the way to the Supreme Court.
(Author: Sue Day, Citizens Advice Shepway) Since the changes to Legal Aid in 2013 Advice Agencies and the public have struggled. Advice Agencies because previous provision and funding of legal advice has shrunk dramatically and the public because their need for legal advice, assistance and representation remains undiminished but the ability to access this in some areas is no longer there and in others is greatly reduced.
Ellen Taylor, from Derbyshire Law Centre, explains their plans to use funding, provided by the Ministry of Justice through the Litigant in Person Support Strategy, to develop their Lip Service.
(Author: Natalia Rymaszewska, Interim Chief Executive, RightsInfo). Human Rights are vital to protect us against injustice. They make our society fairer and more equal. But the human rights system remains fragile. Understanding of and support for human rights in the UK is low with a 2012 public attitudes survey by YouGov/EDF showing that just 22% people in Britain are pro-human rights - the majority are ambivalent.
Update from TechCrunch on the latest development of DoNotPay which includes a brief video showing how it works.
This fast-paced session provides tips about free and low-cost tools, apps and software. The presentation is a video from NTAP, an organisation in the US which helps the non profit sector improve client services through effective and innovative use of technology.
A new report from The Law Society, four years after LASPO, which includes 25 recommendations to government.
Article on using McKenzie Friends including the potential risks involved and what questions should be asked before using them.
Blog from Penelope Gibbs on observing a virtual court in which defendants all appear on video and everyone else is in the courtroom.