Financial barriers are the biggest blocker on accessing legal services, according to survey participants, with a majority saying the system doesn’t work for ‘ordinary people’.
Hot topics in the legal world and updates on legal matters funded on CrowdJustice, all in this week’s Justice Beat.
Quote of the day
“This is one of many battles against developers riding rough-shod over local communities. Donations help those communities fight back.” - Southwark Law Centre is supporting a group of local residents with a planning appeal.
1. The legal system isn’t set up for ‘ordinary people’, according to research published to coincide with the launch of the Legal Access Challenge, a legal tech initiative sponsored by the SRA and Nesta. 60% of people surveyed felt that legal services were inaccessible, with cost forming the biggest barrier. Over ⅔ of respondents said they could not afford to access legal help.
Julia Salasky, CEO here at CrowdJustice, spoke at the launch of the Legal Access Challenge, which offers LawTech innovators £250,000 to improve access to legal services. Check out event highlights here.
Group action takes off
2. Group actions look increasingly viable following a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal. The Court admonished the Competition Appeal Tribunal for applying too harsh a standard in assessing the strength of Walter Merricks’ £14bn claim against Mastercard. The former financial ombudsman is bringing the biggest group action in British history against the credit card giant on behalf of 46m people across the UK.
Level playing field?
3. Should female athletes who naturally produce higher levels of testosterone have to take hormone-suppressing drugs before they’re allowed to compete? That question is troubling the Swiss courts this week. Following a challenge by Olympic 800m champion, Caster Semenya, Switzerland's federal supreme court suspended an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rule which restricts testosterone levels in female runners.
Taking care of tenants
4. Those renting property occupy a notoriously precarious position, but new legislation promises stronger protections against excessive demands by landlords and lettings agents. The Tenant Fees Act, which came into force last week, instigates a ban on most fees associated with letting private property in England. It’s estimated the new legislation will cost landlords up to £83m, and there’s a concern landlords might pass these costs onto tenants, by putting up the rent on their properties.
Whistleblowing judge hits the Supreme Court
5. Judges should be considered ‘workers’ under employment legislation and be allowed to bring whistleblowing claims, says District Judge Claire Gilham. She is heading to the Supreme Court this week to clarify judges’ status, Personnel Today reports. The MOJ claims they are ‘office-holders’ and not entitled to protections under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Judge Gilham raised over £5,000 on CrowdJustice to cover the Court's fees and the costs of lodging documentation. Read a preview of Judge Gilham’s case.
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This week on CrowdJustice
Former soldier Wayne Bass, who contracted Q fever while on duty in Afghanistan, is raising funds to claim the Ministry of Defence failed to provide correct medical treatment; local residents are fundraising to challenge “unlawful” air pollution levels in Canterbury; and architect Elsie Owusu is raising funds to bring an Employment Tribunal claim concerning discrimination.
Want to learn more about funding for legal action?
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