In England and Wales today, calls for increasing accesstojustice are omnipresent. Justice stakeholders have observed at length that the capacity of people to access justice is paramount in a democracy governed by the rule of law. The purview of the current accesstojustice agenda has thus been quite broad, covering everything from the rise in litigants-in-person – that is, individuals who are representing themselves as opposed to being represented by legal professionals – to the digital modernization of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service through the
The right to access justice
Accesstojustice is a fundamental human right. Whilst there is no single definition, accessible justice typically refers to fair and widely understood laws, access to adequate legal supports and services, impartial and equitable justice system procedures and the right to recourse where these things are not experienced. A broader contemporary definition acknowledges ‘extra-legal’ factors, such as inequalities in health, housing and employment, which create and perpetaute barriers to justice.
The notion of accessible justice
Access to justice for all, regardless of the ability to pay, has been a core democratic value. But this basic human right has come under threat through wider processes of restructuring, with an increasingly market-led approach to the provision of welfare. Professionals and volunteers in Law Centres in Britain are struggling to provide legal advice and access to welfare rights to disadvantaged communities.
Drawing upon original research, this unique study explores how strategies to safeguard these vital services might be developed in ways that strengthen rather than undermine the basic ethics and principles of public service provision. The book explores how such strategies might strengthen the position of those who provide, as well as those who need, public services, and ways to empower communities to work more effectively with professionals and progressive organisations in the pursuit of rights and social justice agendas more widely.
concepts of justice and accesstojustice
Before focusing upon the development of legal aid and the history of Law Centres,
more specifically, this chapter starts by summarising different definitions and
perspectives on social justice and their varying implications for social welfare.
Among others, Piachaud has pointed to ‘the very ambiguity of the term “social
justice” – a “feel good” term that almost all can subscribe to’ (Piachaud, 2008,
p 33). While the pursuit of social justice ‘has been the driving force behind
much, perhaps most, social
Accesstojustice for disadvantaged
communities: value and values
Accesstojustice was central to the principles upon which the post-war welfare
state was established, as Chapter One explained, demonstrating the importance of
Law Centres’ contributions to the provision of accesstojustice for all, regardless
of the ability to pay. How, then, were public service modernisation agendas being
experienced in this vitally important but relatively under-researched field? And
what might be the wider implications for social justice agendas more generally
Marketisation and competition
in criminal legal aid: implications
Tom Smith and Ed Johnston
Legal aid, particularly in criminal justice, is a divisive subject. For
its most devoted proponents, state funding of legal representation
and advice for those accused of crime is a vital public good which
helps to uphold values of fairness, justice and equality. For its most
virulent critics, criminal legal aid is a wasteful, bloated relic from a
bygone era of state intervention, serving primarily to help criminals
problems created by IM cards often caused people to be unable to acquire goods and services when these were needed, and rendered IM cardholders in Australia unable to pay a range of bills. As will be discussed in this chapter, this undermined long-valued consumer rights and contractual freedoms. This chapter also examines procedural rights for cardholders to exit or make complaints about IM schemes, and how these processes are experienced by those who have to use them.
This study shows that IM exit and exemption processes raise significant accesstojustice issues. For
Austerity continues to impact the criminal justice process in England and Wales: police numbers are down, the Crown Prosecution Service is in disarray, legal aid has been reduced, courts are closing and magistrates are leaving.
Research into the criminal process usually focuses on England, however this book offers a rare insight into South Wales. Drawing on first-hand accounts of lawyers, police, suspects, and the convicted and their families, it uncovers how these affected individuals navigate the challenges caused by austerity, what has changed and what can be done to improve the system.
This book is a reliable and evocative account of the reality of criminal justice in Wales.