CABx give cold shoulder to Lord Chancellor's reforms

The Lord Chancellor received a cool reception at the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux annual conference, where delegates said he did little to restore confidence in his legal aid reforms.

At the recent conference in York, Lord Mackay said the poor could no longer rely on legal aid if they wanted to go to law. “We have to recognise that in this sense the original aim of legal aid is just not achievable.”

He said litigants should look to other ways of paying for their cases without resorting to public funds and encouraged the development of insurance schemes and the extension of conditional fee arrangements.

He said he recognised CABx were committed to providing a free service to all. “I admire these principles but the ones I have adopted for the purchase of publicly funded legal services are different. I am not able to pay for a service which is available to all.”

Ann Abraham, chief executive of NACAB, said the speech did little to address the CABx concerns about the impact of legal aid reform. But the organisation will continue talking with the Lord Chancellor and the Legal Aid Board, to develop a system of legal aid in which it could play a part.