Equality and Human Rights Commission briefing: The future of legal aid

‘There is evidence that LASPO (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) has limited access to redress for breaches of human rights and for discrimination claims.’

This is from a November 2018 briefing (Word) from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the impact of changes to civil legal aid under LASPO.

The briefing assesses the impact of the 2012 changes in relation to access to justice, the effects on people with protected characteristics, access to redress for human rights breaches, and access to redress for discrimination.

It finds that:

  • LASPO considerably narrowed the scope of legal aid, making it unavailable for most matters around housing, debt, employment, and more. It also narrowed the financial eligibility criteria for claiming legal aid.
  • There is evidence that these changes have restricted access to justice as required by common law, and by the Human Rights Act 1998.
  • There is also evidence of a disproportionate negative impact on people sharing certain protected characteristics.
  • In particular, the removal of most welfare benefits law from the scope of legal aid has disproportionately affected disabled people, and the removal of most private family law from scope is likely to disproportionately affect women.
  • The changes have had a double impact on people from ethnic minorities. This is due to the removal of most immigration law from legal aid, and the changes around housing cases, in which BAME people are overrepresented.

Download the full briefing here. (Word)