Garden Court Chambers' Housing Team has responded to the Ministry of Justice Consultation Legal Aid Reform: Application of the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme. As a team, they wish to take this final opportunity to urge the Ministry of Justice not to proceed with the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (SLAS).
The Team's view is that there should be no change in the system at all. They consider it wrong that there should be any deduction from a client's damages which exceeds the cost of funding their case. As a form of indirect taxation, this is regressive. The principle underpinning a means-tested legal aid system is that legal services should be provided free of charge to those who can least afford them. In the words of the 1945 Rushcliffe Report which presaged the Legal Advice and Assistance Act 1949, the idea was that legal aid should be provided to "those of small or moderate means" and those who are "normally classed as poor". The tax burden for funding the legal aid system, as with any other part of the welfare state, should fall squarely on the shoulders of those who are able to afford it.
Click here to download our full consultation response.
The consultation response was fully endorsed by other teams in Chambers.
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