By Steve Hynes
The Legal Action Group
ISBN: 978 1 908407 20 7
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! (OR ARE WE!)
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Steve Hynes has produced a highly charged political statement of where he perceives ‘justice’ to be under the current Coalition Government’s war on the deficit and he makes some very valid points in this review of the state of legal aid in 2012-2013 as the cuts bite.
The Legal Action Group always produces excellent publications and ‘Austerity Justice’ is no exception. Hynes has established his basic historic thesis that access to justice policy is now at one of its lowest ebbs with the arrival of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. He describes the Act as leading to the tipping point between members of the coalition although the jury may still be out on this during 2013.
‘Austerity Justice’ examines the ‘once and for all redesign’ of the civil justice legal aid system by the government against substantial opposition where key concessions were won over including the ability to permit amendments to the scope of legal aid in the future. However, it is doubted whether some of these measures are actually written in stone.
We came away with the decided view that not everyone is ‘in this together’ although the extent of the cuts could well lead to what is called a ‘rump service’ in the future as the welfare state is transformed into a new design by the current government. To many there has been an urgent need for legal aid reform because of the ballooning budget.
Therefore, this book is most thought-provoking and a valuable statement of what is currently on the table by way of reform - the debate is well under way although whether there is a ‘ratchet’ effect with the terminal decline of legal aid remains to be seen as far as many are concerned.
Steve Hynes offers us a genuine insight into the peaks and troughs of legal aid as the political philosophies have changed since 1949 but make no mistakes… for many this matter has not been finally decided!
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