This week is all about action for the legal profession. It was kicked off today very nicely with the London Legal Walk; a 10km walk organised by the London Legal Support Trust. This event saw 481 teams and over 7500 walkers participate in order to raise money which goes towards funding legal advice clinic’s and law centres across London. Charities which rely on such fundraising. Charities that do such an incredible job of helping vulnerable members of the community, who often have nowhere else left to turn. Thousands more people are constantly being left without access to justice, a figure which is constantly increasing. This is due to government cuts and privatisation of many vital key legal services as mentioned in pervious blogs. The Legal advice agencies and the law centres play such an important part in the legal system, however the role that they play should not be expected to keep increasing. The legal profession should not have to rely on charities in order to maintain access to justice for all. Access to justice is something which should be readily available to all; a key ingredient essential to the rule of law.
The rule of law is an essential ingredient to a modern day, democratic society; as Tom Bingham, explains in his book entitled, ‘The Rule of Law.’ The former Master of the Rolls and Lord Chief Justice explains how the rule of law is essential not only to the legal foundations of a country, but also to the economy. It therefore undermines the government’s attempts to stabilise and repair our economy by at the same time eroding the rule of law.
The second topic of action this week is coming up on Wednesday; the save legal aid rally. An event organised by London Criminal Court Solicitors Organisation. The event is planned to begin outside Parliament at 10:30 on Wednesday 22nd May 2013. It will see speakers including Clive Stafford Smith, Gerry Conlan (Guildford 4), a family member of Jean Charles de Menezes, Dave Rowntree and Breda Power (Daughter of Billy Power of Birmingham 6). The aim of the event is to protest against the MoJ’s plans to introduce price competitive tendering for criminal legal aid work. These plans will remove the right of a defendant to have a solicitor of their choice. They are plans for justice on the cheap and they will have a devastating effect on the legal profession. The protest will be followed by a mass rally at Friends Meeting House at Euston at 13:30 on the same day.
At the same time the online e-petition to ‘Save UK Justice’ is approaching 50,000 signatures, nearly half way to its goal of the 100,000 signatures required to spark a parliamentary debate. That said, the petition has not yet received a response, something which is required after the petition reaches 10,000 signatures. Nevertheless public awareness of the matter is starting to grow. The legal profession seem united in their bid and hope has not been lost. The progress is becoming progressive. The momentum must not be lost. Chris Grayling has picked a fight with a group of arguably some of the most intelligent individuals in the country. It is not a fight we intend to lose!
LLB (Honours) Student & Aspiring Barrister