Cost above justice

The Lord Chancellor, in his White Paper on legal aid, has neatly sidestepped the real issue in his quest to impose strict budgetary control on the system. Access to justice has taken a back seat to be replaced by the simple issue of cost.

The only clear winner in this White Paper is the Government. Not only does the paper contain plans to make legally aided clients pay a minimum contribution, it also de facto minimises choice of solicitor for the client. With only 3,000 or so franchised suppliers, access to justice in the practical sense is limited. This paper, as feared, has gone down the path of cost cutting at the expense of all other considerations. The issue is opening up access, not restricting it.