Anti-Carter campaign set to storm courts

A new campaign to resist the Carter reforms to civil legal aid is to be launched in May with demostrators campaigning at courts across the country.

The ‘Justice – Access Denied’ campaign is the creation of the Access to Justice Alliance (AJA), a consortium of 20 advice and voluntary sector organisations formed in 2005 that includes Citizens Advice, the British Institute of Human Rights and Liberty.

The campaign will promote the view that the Carter Report reforms, due for implementation this year, will mean fewer people will be given legal advice, and will impact especially on those with more complex legal needs.

The campaign will ask the government to reconsider its proposals, in particular the new fixed-fee funding system. As well as lobbying individual MPs, the campaign will also include a petition to the Government.

A week of action is planned to coincide with the campaign’s launch on 14 May. AJA supporters will demonstrate outside county courts and tribunal offices using placards with the campaign’s ‘No Entry’ sign logo.

AJA Chair Alison Hannah said: “The purpose of the week of action is to raise public awareness of the potential impact the Government’s reforms will have on access to justice. Everyone concerned about these services should support the campaign and contact AJA members to take part.”

The Alliance is calling on the government to: better resource the legal aid scheme than proposed in the reforms; compensate the legal aid budget for the costs of new policies and initiatives; co-ordinate spending by government departments and local authorities, on independent legal and advice services, and oblige them to contribute; review and revise the eligibility criteria for legal aid.