Nearly two-thirds of lawyers believe access to justice has worsened over the last decade

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Legal aid cuts to blame, research finds

The majority of those in the legal profession believe the reduction in legal aid availability is a major reason for the decline in access to justice, according to a study by the Law Society of England and Wales.

When the Society interviewed its 1,961 members in 2022, it found that 64% felt that access to justice for civil and criminal matters has worsened in the last decade. Almost two in three respondents cited cost and reduction in legal aid as responsible for this change.

“We are hearing from those with first-hand experience of working in the legal sector that the fundamental right to access to justice has become more and more difficult to uphold over the last ten years,” said Law Society president Lubna Shuja.

“Consistent underfunding of the justice system in the ten years since crushing legal aid cuts were introduced in 2013 means that people are all too often not able to get the support they need if they are unable to afford private legal fees. Over the past ten years there has been a 41% decrease in magistrates’ court representation,” continued Shuja, citing statistics from Legal Aid Statistics Quarterly.

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Finally, Shuja added: “Solicitors’ perspectives on how government policy has weakened the UK’s rule of law are similarly damning. Our research shows that 61% of our members are concerned about the impact recent government policy (over the past two years) has had.”

The finding follows the Law Society’s High Court application for permission to challenge the government’s historic cuts to criminal legal aid. Prior to the cuts, an independent review had recommended an immediate 15% fee increase to support criminal legal aid.

A previous Law Society survey reported by Legal Cheek found that 81% of junior lawyers were put off pursuing a long-term career in crime by low pay, long hours and poor work/life balance.

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Al Goh Rythmn

An easy test for living in the modern UK “Do Daily Mail reading Boomers support funding something?” If the answer is “no'” you can be sure it has become far worse in the last decade and far, far worse since Brexit.


McKenzie Friend’s Friend

The phrase ‘access to justice’ has become an emotive mantra to guilt the public into feeling sorry for lawyers and their apparently ‘poverty’ earnings – “You’ll be left ALONE in court if we aren’t paid enough!!!! Do you want your kids to see you go to jail? ACCESS TO JUSTICE NOW!!”

In reality, MILLIONS in the UK can’t access the courts, regardless of what a lawyer is paid.

Employed for less than 2 years? You can be fired for anything and can’t have a tribunal look at the situation.

Do voluntary work? All 22 million volunteers in the UK can’t access tribunals either.

Where’s the call to reform the law to provide ‘access to justice’ for these groups, clearly a huge amount of the work force in this country?

It’s not really about ‘access to justice’ – it’s about what ends up on the bank statement.


McKenzie Frenzy

The “axe to grind” force is strong in this one.


‘Poverty’ Chic

How much exactly do you earn from legal aid each year?


Sick of socialist scroungers

How much income tax did you pay last year?


Asking for a (McKenzie) friend…

What is the average income of a legal aid barrister?


Eye Wish

It should be zero because the role is an overpriced inefficient luxury we don’t need to fund from tax income. A minimum service public defender system is all that is required.

Legal aid - good luck affording a mortgage!!

i am a solicitor 5y PQE in legal aid. I earn £33k per year. Civil Legal Aid rates have not increased since perhaps 2012.



According to the ONS, 33k is the average salary in the UK –

Does most of the UK live in ‘poverty’ on that amount?


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