Lobby groups slam Legal Services Bill

Three legal lobby groups have joined forces to send a briefing paper slamming the Legal Services Bill to every member of the House of Lords.

In an unprecedented move, The Legal Action Group (LAG), Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) and Sole Practitioners Group (SPG), the three main bodies representing high street firms and their clients, have produced a paper which raises concern about the impact of the Bill on citizens’ access to justice.

The groups argue that proposals for Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) will force many firms to abandon legal aid, leaving major pockets of the country without legal aid provision.

They also argue that commercial or other non-legal investors in ABSs will cherry-pick only the profitable work which can be standardised, and that the loss of high street firms practising legal aid will dangerously reduce physical access to legal aid support.

LAG director Alison Hannah said: ‘‘We believe these changes will jeopardise the independence of lawyers and put them under pressure to act in the best interests of their employers rather than their clients.

“They will do nothing to improve access to justice for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people or those who need legal aid for complex and difficult cases.”