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Justice redefined – or justice diluted?

Lacey, Nicola (2014) Justice redefined – or justice diluted? Family Law, 2014 (44). pp. 593-595. ISSN 0014-7281

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I write with some temerity as I am not a family lawyer: I have a criminal law background, as well as an interest in social and political theory. Hence I will focus my brief remarks on some of the analogies between the changes to legal aid and access to justice more generally across the fields of family law, criminal law and immigration law, before moving on to make a few remarks on the overall implications for the idea of justice as a public value, and for the idea of access to justice as a dimension of public services and an aspect of compliance with the rule of law. As a preface to my remarks, I should say that I am not going to address one issue which nonetheless seems to me to be really crucial: namely that of the impact of the recent and further proposed changes to fee structure on the quality and indeed availability of legal skills and services. I leave this aside simply because there are so many people here today who are vastly better qualified to address it. But I would like to say that nothing I have read has given me optimism that either this government or the last has engaged in any really careful evaluation of the likely impact on the relevant parts of the legal profession, or of the indirect effects of lawyers diverting into other areas of practice or indeed into other professions. It also goes without saying that a lot of thought is going to need to be put into the implications, for court processes, of increasing numbers of litigants in person: the support of charities such as the Personal Support Unit is invaluable, but as litigants in person become the norm in significant areas, one wonders if traditional court proceedings can consistently offer an effective route to justice in their current form. As I did some background reading on the recent changes to the funding of cases in family law, particularly those consequent on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) (the title of the legislation gives us some significant clues to the political climate, doesn't it?), as well as the recent Family Justice Review (FJR), I was struck, forcibly, by some common themes running across the substantive areas in which Government has been so active in ‘modernising' legal services. Two in particular stand out, to my eyes as a criminal lawyer.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Jordan Publishing
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
K Law > KD England and Wales
Date Deposited: 16 May 2014 08:26
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2021 23:14

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