AJA takes legal aid fight to Parliament

A host of lawyers descended on Parliament last week (24 May) to lobby MPs for better access to justice and better civil legal aid.

The Access to Justice Alliance (AJA) organised the lobbying event to express the concerns of lawyers working in the civil legal aid field about the decline in public spending on civil issues.

Carol Storer, AJA chair and head of legal at housing charity Shelter, said: “People feel pretty passionate about it and are desperately keen to make sure that MPs know what’s going on.”

Storer said there was a large turnout from Citizens Advice Bureaux, law centres and young legal aid practitioners in particular. The lobby concluded with a panel discussion attended by experts, including the Department for Constitutional Affairs’ minister in charge of legal aid Vera Baird QC MP.

In addition, lawyers who were unable to attend the event have been lobbying MPs by letter and email to make their voices heard.

Storer said that, for many legal aid lawyers, taking time off to participate in a lobby was too costly.

The AJA claims legal aid spending on debt, housing, family and employment issues has declined by 22 per cent, prompting an exodus of lawyers from the sector.

The AJA’s 30-strong membership includes Liberty, the Law Centres Federation, Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group.