Developments in the News
Follow the developments in the news addressing access to justice issues.
Domestic abuse victims will get greater protections in an “overhaul of how the family courts deal with the horrific crime”, the government has announced.
25 June 2020 | BBC, UK
BME women in criminal justice system share harrowing stories as campaigners warn they suffer systemic racism
‘I’ve been called a slut, a money-grabbing whore, a gold digger, and more from police and others public agencies,’ says woman
24 June 2020 | Independent, UK
Are you worried you’re about to lose your job because of the coronavirus crisis? Has the job retention scheme kept you afloat since lockdown – but now your boss wants to let you go? If you’re facing redundancy, it’s important to know your rights
24 June 2020 | BBC, UK
Priti Patel says she will do all she can to help people wrongly told they were in UK illegally.
23 June 2020 | Guardian, UK
Proposal for judges to hear cases alone could help cut 41,000-case backlog.
16 June 2020 | By Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, UK
Number released to sleep rough in England and Wales forces government to rampup funding
15 June 2020 | By Jamie Grierson, The Guardian, UK
Children in the Dock is one of six journalistic investigations shortlisted for the prestigious Orwell prize this year, in the category entitled Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.
13 June 2020 | By Helen Pidd, Josh Halliday, Maya Wolfe-Robinson and Nazia Parveen, The Guardian UK
More than half claiming during lockdown suffer hardship in five-week wait, says Citizens Advice
11 June 2020 | By Patrick Butler, The Guardian UK
Woman and children were ‘subjected to harassment, racist abuse and overcrowding’ in Home Office accommodation
11 June 2020 | By Diane Taylor, The Guardian UK
A woman is challenging rules which deprived her of legal aid for action to protect her from her former partner.
9 June 2020 | By Clive Coleman, BBC
Doctors and campaigners seek judicial review of government’s efforts to provide PPE for NHS
8 June | By Denis Campbell, Guardian UK
Campaigners have threatened to bring legal action against the government for not providing free school meal vouchers during the summer.
5 June 2020 | By Ross Hawkins BBC
Court hearings held remotely in lockdown disadvantage vulnerable people and should not be used longer term, lawyers and charities have said.
4 June 2020 | By Anna Khoo BBC
Can virtual courts deliver justice? Joshua speaks to participants of a mock virtual jury trial.
4 June 2020 | By Joshua Rozenberg, Law in Action BBC
Family lawyer says divorcing couples can disagree during coronavirus pandemic amid conflicting advice.
2 June 2020 | By Owen Bowcott Guardian, UK
As Britain faced an unprecedented lockdown, the situation for the 80,000 people in prison was even more stringent. David Adams was recently released from jail and describes how prisoners were confined to their tiny cells for more than 23 hours a day.
1 June 2020 | Guardian, UK
The book is written by and dedicated to legal aid practitioners who have kept the justice system going. The verses reflect the predicament of millions who are working from home while coping with childcare, video conferencing and the pandemic
31 May 2020 | By Owen Bowcott Guardian, UK
“Mob justice” could increase in England and Wales unless more money is made available to clear the backlog of court cases swollen by coronavirus, the government has been warned.
29 May 2020 | By Justin Parkinson BBC
Just £360,000 distributed in first year from fund expected to pay out hundreds of millions
28 May 2020 | By Amelia Gentleman Guardian, UK
Study of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 finds 96% of lawyers do not support it
18 May 2020 | By Owen Bowcott and Catherine Baksi Guardian, UK
Two low-income households lost about £180 a month when forced on to universal
12 May 2020 | By Patrick Butler for the Guardian, UK
Employers face a logistical nightmare as staff return.
10 May 2020 | By Michael Savage for the Guardian, UK
Emergency action needed to protect renters from eviction during the coronavirus crisis, says Shadow Housing Secretary
Thangam Debbonaire sets out a five point plan to protect renters from eviction, including by extending the temporary ban on evictions to six months or longer.
09 May 2020 | Thangam Debbonaire
Survey finds 25% of people had missed bill payments and 20% rent, council tax or telecoms.
01 May 2020 | By Hilary Osborne for the Guardian
More than 1,000 wrongful immigration offence reviews not started two years after scandal.
30 April 2020 | By Amelia Gentleman for the Guardian
Remote video trials could disadvantage people with learning disabilities, the equalities watchdog has warned, as courts switch to online hearings during the coronavirus crisis.
22 April 2020 | By Owen Bowcott for The Guardian
Felicity Hannah notes that the legacy of this terrible time could lead to some good - there is a huge opportunity to advocate to changes in Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay.
30 March 2020 | Politics.co.uk
When courts close more fully, consequences will reach every corner of society.
18 March 2020 | Prospect Magazine
Coronavirus: Charities offering online support to domestic abuse victims amid concerns violence could soar
Self-isolation can be a dangerous time for women trapped inside with their abuser whose behaviour may be aggravated by the chaos and uncertainty caused by Coronavirus.
17 March 2020 | The Independent
Statistics may be showing a fall in rough sleeping but the number has still risen sharply over the past 10 years. Specialist support services are crucial if we want to turn this around.
2 March 2020 | By Jordan Smith for Inside Housing, UK
Peter Hitchens: The unlikely victim behind all those nannying warnings that make you want to scream is finally revealed
The taxes which were saved by cutting Legal Aid have been added instead to the insurance premiums we must pay. Or they have been loaded on to the ever-increasing legal burden of the NHS
22 February 2020 | By Peter Hitchens for the Daily Mail, UK
February 24 to February 28 marked Access to Justice week. Here Jane Basham, the new chief executive officer of Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) explains why it’s important.
23 February 2020 | Norwich Evening News, UK
On 24 February, Redbridge Council, in partnership with the Salvation Army, officially launched Malachi Place to support rough sleepers who have No Recourse to Public Funds.
26 February | By Lewis Berrill for for East London and West Essex Guardian
Relatives of a man who starved to death after his benefits were cut are taking legal action against the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
27 February 2020 | BBC, UK
Bob Neill MP: ‘It isn’t rocket science, we must urgently adjust our priorities to ensure our courts receive proper investment’
Sir Bob Neill MP argues that we have a duty to ensure our courts are properly resourced with better support available for those working in court.
8 January, 2020 | By Sir Bob Neill MP
Legal Aid is rarely provided to families seeking Inquests, hear of one daughters experience of representing herself in her mothers inquest.
1 October, 2019 | By Becky Montacute and Mary Goodhart, for BBC Stories
Universal credit was supposed to simplify the system but had been controversial from the outset. Now Labour is pledging to abolish it.
28 September, 2019 | By Rachel Schraer, for BBC Reality Check
Lawyers have called for a radical shift to mediation in the family courts to protect the mental health of children and parents
19 September 2019 | By The Times
More people are representing themselves in court. Lawyers need to strike a balance between serving their clients and the administration of justice
19 September 2019 | By Peter Brewer, for The Times
Students are offering free legal advice and representation to grieving families because cuts to legal aid mean they cannot afford a solicitor
16 September 2019 | By Zoe Drewett, for Metro
Judge Anthony Lowe, sitting at Shrewsbury crown court, described the justice system as “not fit for purpose”. According to the judge, the lives of witnesses and defendants were being unfairly “put on hold” by delays to trials, caused by insufficient police, prosecutors and court staff.
3 September 2019 | By Neil Johnson for The Times
Midland Circuit Judge Anthony Lowe laments police and staff cuts that leave defendants waiting for months to be tried, claiming that “everywhere you look, our justice system is beginning to be not fit for purpose”.
2 September, 2019 | By Rob Smith for the Shropshire Star
Drug dealers, kidnappers and litigants in person - they’re all in a day’s work for criminal duty solicitor, Katy Hanson.
29 August, 2019 | By Jenny Rees at BBC Wales
Laura Gibbons, public law solicitor at Greater Manchester immigration aid unit, mostly works with children in the UK who are on their own and seeking asylum, and who have had their ages disbelieved.
19 August, 2019 | By Laura Gibbons for The Guardian
In Scotland, the legal aid system is suffering and it is no longer true to say that those on legal aid get the same service as those who can afford to pay, according to former legal aid lawyer and ex-Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
1 August, 2019 | By Kenny MacAskill for The Scotsman
Sir Andrew McFarlane is launching a Review following an unprecedented increase in childcare cases. One of the main aims of this Review is to identify and divert cases away from court, making better use of ‘out of court services’ such as mediation and dispute resolution.
3 July, 2019 | By Owen Bowcott at The Guardian
Victims of discrimination ‘denied justice’ as legal aid cuts create ‘David vs Goliath’ scenario, report finds
Victims of discrimination in England and Wales are being denied justice due to soaring legal aid cuts, a report by The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned.
19 June, 2019 | By May Bulman at The Independent
13 June, 2019 | By Jenny Rees at BBC Wales
A free advice clinic provided by law students at the University of South Wales has a six-month waiting list because people on low incomes struggle to get a solicitor, its director says.
12 June, 2019 | by Owen Bowcott at The Guardian
The article describes the Supreme Court’s recent unanimous decision in the case of Terryann Samuels, a single mother of four who had been forced to choose between paying her rent when housing benefits were not fully covering it, or using her income to feed her children. Upon choosing the latter, Birmingham City Council declared her ‘intentionally homeless’.
10 June, 2019 | By The Guardian
“Software is never deployed in isolation. Even when its inner workings are impossible to scrutinise, the motives of those who deploy it can be examined and must be criticised - and they must be held responsible for the effects of their algorithms.” Increased governmental reliance on algorithms when tackling delicate issues such as immigration must be carefully monitored.
9 May, 2019 | By Patrick Butler at The Guardian
With quotes from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) the article welcomes the abolition of three year benefit sanctions.
9 May, 2019 | By Sally Walmsley at the Residential Landlords Association and also in The Times
The Communication Manager from the RLA explains the frustrations landlords experience with legitimate repossessions.
8 May, 2019 | By Andy Slaughter and Charlotte Blackbourn for at The Times
“Legal aid is a tough sell. As it is easily linked to front-page splashes about taxpayer money being used to help criminals, many find it difficult to appreciate that legal aid could become a lifeline for any one of us, at any time.”
8 May, 2019 | By Jamie Grierson at The Guardian
A Cambridge Econometrics report, commissioned by Liberty, has been sent to Home Office. The report concludes that after taking into account the costs of potential alternatives to detention, such as community support projects, the government could save the taxpayer between £25m and £35m by introducing a 28-day cap on detention.
7 May, 2019 | By The Guardian
Referencing the report by Refugee Action and citing an interview with an immigration solicitor from Duncan Lewis this article examines the potential impact of the Home Office scrapping their decision making target.
29 April, 2019 | By Kate Hodal
This article summarises a global study launched at the World Justice Forum that underlines how injustice affects all countries, but women, children, people with disabilities, minority ethnic communities and the poor are worst affected.
9 April, 2019 | From The Times
This article discusses The Baroness Hale’s speech at a Legal Action Group (LAG) conference on how the explosion in Family Law Cases and Litigants in Person was triggered by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act which left thousands of people unable to afford lawyers.
10 April, 2019 | By Dr Daniel Newman
This article for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies examines the effect of the cuts to legal aid, and the restrictive means test.
February 24, 2019 | By Louise Tickle
This article considers the difficulty as a result of legal aid cuts to protect and prioritise a child’s interests if only one party has proper advise and representation. The account is represented by a former lay judge of the family court.
February 7, 2019 | By the BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman
This article concerns the Ministry of Justice’s announcement in here review of legal aid reforms that legal advice could be given in GP surgeries to address issues which could exacerbate mental health problems. They said that more face-to-face advice would be provided for social welfare claimants. Legal aid could also be provided in GP surgeries as part of an “early intervention” pilot scheme.
January 3, 2019 | By the Bar Council and openDemocracy
This is a collection of short first-hand accounts from those who have been directly impacted by legal aid cuts and shows the repercussions.
A New Year’s Resolution for Litigators: Read Buzzfeed more often: Find out what Judges really think and the MOJ’s highly “selective” use of statistics
January 1, 2019 | by Gexall at Civil Litigation Brief
This article concerns the work of the journalist, Emil Duggan who wrote about judge’s views in response to the recent court reform consultation paper. It also asserts that the MOJ massages statistics, by for example, they regarded adjournments as successful outcomes and its inadequate consultation on court closures which increases the travel time for its users.
December 28, 2018 | From the Guardian
In the letters column of the paper, members of the public respond to what they describe as depressing stories of litigants in person experience as they criticise the government’s current position.
December 27, 2018 | By Amelia Hill from the Guardian
Nigel Evans, a Conservative MP who voted for LASPO Act 2012 asserts that change is needed. After facing litigation himself, he asserts that it is completely wrong to remove people’s right to have expert legal representation.
December 27, 2018 | By Owen Bowcott and Amelia Hill from the Guardian
The article tells the story of woman who was a victim of domestic violence, who breached a non-molestation order made against her. She
said that if she had gone to the solicitor two weeks earlier, he could have helped. She was denied legal aid. Before the judge, she argued she had no choice to get her children returned.
December 26, 2018 |By Owen Bowcottt and Pamela Duncan from the Guardian
This article highlight the effects of the LASPO Act 2012 on the litigant’s representation at family hearings and mediation and resulting repercussions. It also correlates the impact of the reduced legal aid for immigration work and the quality of the work done.
December 26, 2018 | By Amelia Hill from the Guardian
This article tells the story of two litigants in person to highlight their difficulties faced being both solicitor and barrister in their own case. It highlights the number of people accessing legal aid in the past decade fell by 82% and illustrates the impact this could have teasing evidence during the case itself.
December 20, 2018 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article concerns a leaked document from the submission from the Association of Her Majesty’s District Judges (ADJ) to the Ministry of Justice on its consultation regarding court reform. The document paints a picture of the current state of the courts, addressing court closures, the risks of more reliance on technology and the government’s analysis for increasing travel time for court users.
A Groundbreaking Study has found people living below the Poverty Line are being denied Free Legal Help
March 21, 2018 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
This article highlights a study which shows that households earning more than £2,657 a month before tax are excluded from legal aid. Th study compares various cost of living tests with legal aid thresholds and found that he maximum level of disposable income at which legal aid is allowed, households are already below the poverty line fore any legal bills.
Febuary 10, 2018 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
An 18-year-old man had to persuade a judge at Hatton Cross that he should receive asylum in Britain and that returning to Egypt would lead to a death sentence. He fell victim to he changes brought with LASPO as numbers fell from more than 60,000 to in 2011/12 to 29,085 in the number of people given legal aid in an immigration matter.
January 21, 2018 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article addresses the Interests of Justice (IOJ) or “merits” test, which is designed to judge the seriousness of a case and whether appearing without a lawyer could result in a miscarriage of justice, for example, going to prison or losing a job. Unlike the financial means test, which has a set threshold for earnings and wealth, the criteria for meeting the IOJ test is subjective. with the number of refusals increasing from 47% to 67%.
December 16, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
This article highlights that in magistrates court family hearings, 68% of people represent themselves. It becomes intrinsically unfair when one side has a professional lawyer and the other doesn’t. As a result, the children won’t be achieving necessarily he best outcome in terms of relationship with their parents.
December 15, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
This article tell the story of Steven Shipman, a 32 year-old who was caught with cannabis in his car and had to face the charges unrepresented. BuzzFeed News survery shows around 30% of defendants in Magistate court and more than 6,000 appear in the Crown court unrepresented.
The families of those killed in one of Britain’s Deadliest Terror Attacks have to crowdfund to afford a legal challenge
December 1, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The articles tells the story of Jule Hambleton, whose sister died in the Birmingham pub bombings has has leads the Justice4the21 campaign against the ruling that IRA members suspected will not be named at fresh inquests. The High Court ruled that the challenge was in the public interest, however, the legal aid agenc said they did not meet strict criteria for exceptional case funding, a safety net introduced after 2012.
November 26, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article asserts that due to legal aid cuts, court disputes take months longer to resolve. One in four people who receive early professional legal advice resolve their problem within 3-4 months while one in four of those who didn’t get such advice takes at least nine months of the issue first occurring.
November 23, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article concerns the fact that funding for almost all employment cases was scrapped in 2013 with the introduction of LASPO. The mandatory Civil Legal Advice line was designed to offer advice and triage cases. However, since its introduction, 4,655 called with regards to discrimination cases, 2,608 were given further legal advice and non were referred to see a lawyer face-to-face. Latest figures also suggest that only 1,421 discrimination cases had representation and thy used other areas of law to capture legal aid.
A Senior Judge has suggested Charging the Government for ever “No-Brainer” Benefits case it loses in court
November 9, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
This article concerns remarks by Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals who said the quality of evidence provided by the Department of Work and Pensions is so poor, it would be wholly inadmissible in any other court. He said it is an inappropriate use of judicial resources and that claimants were needlessly put through the stress of that day when the were bound to win.
November 6, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article concerns a grandmother who wanted to care for her grandchild but had to fight a local authority with no lawyer after a social worker recommended the baby be put up for adoption. She was told it would cost £10,000 to £12,000 if there were a full hearing. She said that would have been her income for a year. The judge found in her favour and expressed dissatisfaction about he way in which she had been assessed and treated.
November 1, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article concerns he families of 11 victims in the Shoreham airshow disaster in August 2015 who were turned down for exception legal aid funding. The Government originally estimated here would be between 5,000 and 7,000 applications year with 53-74% expected to be granted. However, in reality, it peaked at 1,516 in 2012/14.
Cutting Legal Aid to Families has had the Entirely Opposite Effect to the one the Government intended
October 31, 2017 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
This article comments on the Justice Select Committee’s report, Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Ac 2012: Post-Legislative Memorandum, asserting that the government’s objectives for the 2012 Act were not met in that attendance to family mediation and publicly funded assessments fell.
October 25, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The chair of the Justice Select Committee, Conservative MP Bob Neill, believes that “budget pressures” and an “unwillingness to listen to professionals” meant changes to legal aid were rushed through and went too far.
October 23, 2017 | Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
This article tell the story of Folarin Oyebola who defended himself in the Court of Appeal in January 2016 on a confiscation order of a property. The transcript shows that he was inaudible 71 times in his hearing. He didn’t feel like the judges took him seriously without a lawyer.
October 2, 2017 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article highlights the call for urgent review of cuts to legal aid to stop the “injustices happening every day” as people attempt to fight their cases without professional representation.
October 1, 2017 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The number of people seeking support in court because they have no representation is up 520% since 2011. This article tells the story of litigants’ experiences at the Birmingham’s Civil and Family Justice Centre and the task that the Personal Support Unit at the centre has taken up since the legal aid cuts.
A woman who begged for 50p was sentenced to six months in prison in a haring where she had no lawyer
April 18, 2017 | By Emily Duggan from BuzzFeed News
The article tell the story of the unrepresented woman who went before Judge Mackenzie. He said that her appearance without a lawyer came close to beaching her human rights. The judge described the woman as fragile and vulnerable and that while what she alleges could potentially give rise to a line of defence, it would be better explored by a solicitor assisting her.