Access to Justice, LASPO 2012 and the Limitations of Neoliberal Ideologies in the Context of Welfare Benefits Cases
This article recognises that access to justice is fundamental for the protection of human rights and that an effective legal aid scheme is one of the main ways a State can increase access to justice. Starting with the contextual background of the Coalition Government’s proposals in 2010 to exclude all welfare benefits cases from the scope of civil legal aid, it discusses the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on individual citizens and society as whole. It explores the neoliberal justification of the legal aid cuts to reduce the national deficit and argues that this is illogical due to costs being shouldered elsewhere in the system. Additionally, it argues that the alternatives to legal aid funding, such as advice made available by third sector organisations, should not be a substitute for an effective State-provided legal aid scheme.