‘Legal aid as important for economy as hospitals and schools’

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Increasing access to justice can be a ‘win-win’ for businesses, IBA-World Bank report claims

Improving legal aid services is as important for economic growth as providing functioning hospitals, schools and roads, the International Bar Association (IBA) and World Bank claim.

The jointly produced report, A Tool for Justice: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Legal Aid, looked at more than 50 cost and benefit studies of legal aid programmes and found that increased access to justice can be a “win-win” for businesses, the economy and society at large.

The report, launched this week at the IBA conference in Seoul, South Korea, argues that failing to provide adequate legal aid does not save money, but simply shifts the financial burden to other areas of government spending such as healthcare, housing, child protection and imprisonment.

For example, the report cites a study in Canada which estimated the costs of unequal access to justice on public spending in other areas (employment insurance, social assistance and healthcare) to be roughly 2.35 times more than the annual direct service expenditures on legal aid.

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“Unaddressed legal needs affect individuals, their families, the justice system, the economy and society as a whole,” commented Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, a member of the IBA Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee. “As a profession we must continue to champion legal aid programmes and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access justice.”

The report further claims that around 5.1 billion people — roughly two-thirds of the world’s population — lack “meaningful” access to justice, the result of which can lead to people becoming trapped in “vicious cycles of poverty, inequality and marginalisation”.

Georgia Harley, senior governance specialist at the World Bank, added: “Legal aid is undeniably good economics. Strengthening legal aid and related services increases access to justice and ensures that the rule of law is upheld. Most importantly, improving legal aid programmes saves government money and strengthens the economy in the long term.”

The report’s release follows the Labour Party’s pledge to provide free legal training for 200 lawyers specialising in areas such as benefits, debt, housing, employment and immigration.

Read the report in full:

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There is an in-house lawyer managing a legal helpline for women who once received a caution for battering a woman.

Most people who plead for ‘equality’, ‘ending poverty’ and ‘access to justice’ rarely want to sacrifice anything to get there.

They just want you to like them. Especially on Twitter.

This is why the world remains unequal in terms of wealth and resources.


Ex Barrister

That is definitely why the world remains unequal. Because of people trying to do good things in order to be liked. Absolutely.



Many lawyers seem to do the bare minimum –

A ‘billable hour’, rather than a week spent volunteering in the heat to distribute aid supplies.

A JustGiving page, rather than mucking in big time to physically build a hospital.

A tweet about how great diversity is in the UK, whilst sitting in a chambers that has one BAME tenant.

Laziness and attention-seeking over really making a difference.



I do the bare minimum because I have to tick boxes to give the impression I care about nonsense like diversity. I do not care. It is bollocks pushed by those that are not good enough to guilt their way into jobs and promotions.



In my experience, people tend to think very differently about diversity if they suddenly have a disabled or mixed race child.


I did not become a lawyer to do good things. I did it to get rich and sleep with better looking women. It worked. I am happy. If you want to change the world, good luck. I don’t.



Better than using the money for drugs or to end up in some horrible codependent marriage based on feederism, I suppose.



Well at least you’re honest about it



The constant whining about legal aid is tiresome. It is a form of taxation and redistribution, just like the NHS and any other form of benefits. People’s support for it depends on (a) their position on the political spectrum (left wing tax ‘n’ spend, or right wing live and let die); and (b) if they work in legal aid, their own selfish economic interests. There is nothing wrong with either of those motivations: I commend the left-wing legal aid lawyers who genuinely believe that the end of the world is nigh. They should, however, also respect that there are many of us who believe that (a) the UK is insufficiently competitive, and who prefer the Singapore/Hong Kong/Dubai/Cayman low-tax/no benefits model; and (b) the post-1945 welfare state went too far, is effectively a Ponzi scheme, and that in fact people, and families, must live (or die) within their means. In case it is not clear, I favour the latter, hence why I never had any interest in publicly-funded work.

Please can we have less preaching and remonstrating from those who are convinced that their view is the only legitimate view. If you don’t like the status quo, vote to change it. If you are unable to garner sufficient votes to implement your preferred version of nirvana, then accept defeat gracefully.


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