Email to prospective MPs: General Election 2017
Ask your prospective parliamentary candidates to protect the most vulnerable in society by supporting legal aid and access to justice.
Following numerous reports of the damaging impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, a long-awaited review of the legal aid cuts was announced by the government on 18 January 2017. Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald explained that the government “now considers enough time has passed for the reforms to have bedded in for us to begin the review process”. The government promised to submit a post-legislative memorandum on LASPO to the Justice Select Committee by May 2017 in order to begin the review process. The memorandum and the review would, Heald said, provide the government “with a robust evidence-based picture of the current legal aid landscape and how it's changed since LASPO”.
In light of the snap election scheduled to take place on 8 June 2017, it is unclear what will happen to the promised review.
Young Legal Aid Lawyers invite you to join us in emailing prospective parliamentary candidates to call on them to commit to supporting legal aid and access to justice by reviewing LASPO as both the Coalition and Conservative governments promised. We have prepared a draft text for you to use below - feel free to personalise this if you would like to!
*Please make sure that you add your name and address at the bottom of this email, so that your prospective MP knows that you are their constituent!*
You can find your election candidates here; there may be some who are yet to announce
Dear [INSERT NAME]
I write to you as a constituent and a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL). I am writing to ask you to:
1. Commit to reviewing the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) as the Coalition and Conservative governments have promised;
2. Commit to bringing areas of law removed from the scope of legal aid by LASPO back into scope;
3. Commit to increasing the thresholds and simplifying the financial means tests for civil and criminal legal aid; and
4. Commit to an independent and comprehensive review of the impact of court and tribunal fees on access to justice.
As a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers, I believe that the provision of good quality publicly funded legal help is essential to protecting the interests of the vulnerable in society and upholding the rule of law. Following the legal aid cuts introduced by LASPO it is clear that access to justice has been severely limited – both in terms of the areas of law for which people can obtain publicly-funded legal advice and representation, and in relation to the proportion of people who are financially eligible for such legal help.
Reports by Amnesty International, the Trades Union Congress, the Bach Commission and the Justice Select Committee have highlighted the devastating impact of the legal aid cuts introduced by LASPO. Bob Neill, the Conservative chair of the Justice Select Committee, has said that the Coalition government went too far in cutting legal aid.
I therefore ask you, as my prospective MP, to commit to a review of LASPO and to improving access to justice by bringing areas of law back into the scope of legal aid, increasing the thresholds and simplifying the financial means test for legal aid and reviewing court and tribunal fees. As your constituent, I would be grateful to hear your views on legal aid and access to justice prior to the general election on 8 June 2017.
I look forward to hearing from you.
[Your address and postcode]