YLAL email to MPs: The Right to Justice

Ask your MP to respond to the final report by the Bach Commission on Access to Justice, The Right to Justice

Following the publication on Friday 22 September 2017 of the final report by the Bach Commission on Access to Justice, The Right to Justice, we invite you to ask your MP to read the report and respond to its recommendations, which include: 

  1. The introduction of a new Right to Justice Act with a legally enforceable right to reasonable legal assistance, without costs which individuals cannot afford;
  2. The creation of an independent Justice Commission to advise on, monitor and enforce the right to justice, and the replacement of the Legal Aid Agency with an independent body;
  3. Reform of the financial means tests for legal aid to create a simpler, more generous scheme for legal aid;
  4. Restoration of legal aid for early legal help for all social welfare law, including debt, employment, welfare benefits, immigration and housing;
  5. An independent review of the state of the legal aid profession and its continued viability.

YLAL published our initial response to The Right to Justice on 22 September. We welcomed the report, which we believe represents a vital contribution to the public debate about access to justice and legal aid.

YLAL believes The Right to Justice could form the blueprint for access to justice policy for decades to come, and calls on the Government to carefully consider the conclusions and recommendations made by the Bach Commission as part of its forthcoming review of the cuts to legal aid.

We have prepared a draft email for you to send to your MP – feel free to amend and personalise it.

You can find your MP's details here. We would be grateful if you could send any response you receive from your MP to us at ylalinfo@gmail.com.

*Please make sure that you add your name and address at the bottom of your email, so that your MP knows that you are their constituent!*

To find your MP, click here

___________________________________________________________

Dear [INSERT NAME]

The Right to Justice

I write to you as a constituent and a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL). I am writing following the publication on 22 September 2017 of the final report by the Bach Commission on Access to Justice, The Right to Justice. The report is available here and YLAL's response to the report is here.

The report calls for the introduction of a new Right to Justice Act which will codify existing rights to justice and establish a legally enforceable right for individuals to receive reasonable legal assistance without costs they cannot afford. The report also recommends reform of the financial eligibility and scope rules for legal aid in order to create a simpler, more generous system which will enable many more people to access publicly funded legal help.

As a member of YLAL, 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 the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) it is clear that access to justice has been severely restricted – 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 (interim report) 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 MP, to consider the recommendations made by the Bach Commission in The Right to Justice and confirm whether you support its proposals, which include:

  1. The introduction of a new Right to Justice Act with a legally enforceable right to reasonable legal assistance, without costs which individuals cannot afford;
  2. The creation of an independent Justice Commission to advise on, monitor and enforce the right to justice, and the replacement of the Legal Aid Agency with an independent body;
  3. Reform of the financial means tests for legal aid to create a simpler, more generous scheme for legal aid;
  4. Restoration of legal aid for early legal help for all social welfare law, including debt, employment, welfare benefits, immigration and housing;
  5. An independent review of the state of the legal aid profession and its continued viability.

As your constituent, I would be grateful to hear your views on legal aid, in particular given that the Government review of the legal aid cuts is due to be completed by April 2018.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

[Your name]

[Your address and postcode]