People who can't get legal aid, even where they have an arguable or good case, “simply give up or don’t go to court,” says Lord Neuberger, former president of the UK Supreme Court.
Commenting on the consequences of cuts to public funding for the legal system for BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Lord Neuberger considers that unless circumstances change, “the rule of law will become seriously under threat.”
Cut to the bone
It's troubling that public spending on the legal system has declined so sharply in recent years. Back in 2010, legal aid spending topped £2.2bn annually. But, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the coalition government initiated a cost-saving exercise that led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Now, the annual legal aid budget is around £1.6bn a year.
The cuts galvanised the legal profession into protest and calls for collective action. Legal commentators bemoan the impact on access to justice in practice areas where clients are often vulnerable, such as immigration, inquests and criminal defence.
Lord Neuberger's comments are well-timed as government departments prepare for the next public spending round, where spending on the legal sector is tipped for another hit in the budget for 2020-2023.
Supporting lawyers and clients
At CrowdJustice, we don't think that anyone with a legal case should be compelled to give up on it because they can't afford to pay for a lawyer. We also think lawyers deserve to be paid properly for their work and shouldn't have to incur significant financial risk.
Our mission is to help more people access legal services and we do that by making sure that they get the funds to pay lawyers for their work. As a result, firms whose clients use CrowdJustice to raise funds for legal work can get paid up-front, take on more clients, improve cash flow and grow their business. It's win-win for clients, who can progress their case, and for lawyers, who get paid faster.
We've built a range of flexible funding tools that help lawyers take on more clients. There's our tried-and-tested public fundraising product, which raised almost £10m across a wide variety of legal matters - from public interest litigation, to smaller, more personal issues.
Against the background of significant cuts to public funding for legal work, we give lawyers and clients another option to do business, which helps to narrow the gap in accessing the legal system.
Do you have a case that could benefit from funding on CrowdJustice?