On 30 July 1949, the Legal Aid and Advice Act was granted royal assent with the intention of ensuring that anyone who needed legal advice would be able to access it. In this timely book the authors describe the origins and history of legal aid as well as New Labour's attempts to reform the system years on. They argue that on its 60th anniversary legal aid has fallen short of its original aims. There exists a marked difference between the numbers of cases pursued to enforce rights and the many potential cases that people never take up as they are either not aware of their rights or they decide it is not worth the trouble to take it further - this is 'the justice gap'. Though UK legal aid is arguably the best funded in the world the authors illustrate that the public are not being well served by the current system which has emerged from the recent reforms. They clearly articulate the necessary, essential reforms to bridge the justice gap that has been created and also to bring into reality the intentions of the original Act.
This title will be of great interest to all legal aid practitioners and commentators and an essential purchase for policy-makers and students across the legal and social policy sectors.
Steve Hynes is Legal Action Groups's (LAG) director. He is a well known commentator in the written and broadcast media on legal aid and access to justice issues. Prior to joining LAG Steve was the director of the Law Centres Federation (LCF) and has worked as manager of a citizens advice bureau in Manchester as well as Rochdale Law Centre(R). Jon Robins is LAG's communications and campaigns director. He is also a freelance journalist and author.
Introduction - the justice gap, Poor man's law, The most friendless wing of the welfare state, New Labour: papering over the cracks, From crisis to Carter, Mind the gap, Family breakdown, Accident waiting to happen, Supplier-induced demand,Bridging the gap: proposals and possible solutions