Lib Dems reveal ideas to save legal aid

A UNIVERSAL right to legal redress must be enshrined in a written constitution, according to the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association.

The association unveiled its blueprint for legal reform at the House of Commons on Friday.

In its Access to Justice report the group goes out of its way to distance itself from Labour, which has promised there will be no more money for legal aid.

The group claims any predetermined budget is incompatible with access to justice.

In a clear jibe at Labour, the document suggests “any party which aspires to be either tough on crime, or tough on the causes of crime” should “consider the effect on an individual child of being evicted, unlawfully, from his/her home… through the non-availability of legal aid”.

Among the proposals outlined by the group are:

the establishment of mediation schemes across the country and extension of arbitration through the courts;

better drafted legislation combined with a simplification and codification of the law;

a Ministry of Justice with enough political muscle to combat the Treasury;

telephone advice services and electronic kiosks to explain the law.

The group's chair David Ive said: “Our proposals are that there should be no overall cap on legal aid. But the whole purpose of the document we have produced is to provide ways in which the budget will be more effectively used.”