Liberal Democrats should support legal aid

Liberal Democrats should support the legal aid system, which is currently in crisis.

Legal aid is the provision of legal help to the public, in particular to those who could not afford legal help themselves and whose liberty is at stake.

On 17 April 2018 a number of lawyers who are Liberal Democrats wrote this memo to Lib Dem MPs, Lords, and the Federal Board urging them that the party must be vocal in support of legal aid and defend it as part of a decent, fair, society.

At present there is a specific crisis in the criminal legal aid.  The government is proposing changes that if allowed to stand will mean there has been a 40% real terms cut in advocates' fees. This will effectively be the end of criminal legal aid.

This will mean that people who are charged with a crime, which could be any of us, will have to represent themselves of pay privately at considerable cost.

We also make the point that the Liberal Democrats political counterparts in other countries, especially the USA, have derived great support from lawyers based on shared values of justice and human rights.  We call on the Liberal Democrats to see lawyers as natural partners for the party.

We specifically call for the Liberal Democrats to endorse the CBA's recommendations to the Ministry of Justice in the present dispute.

You can read the open memo here.