Stringent legal aid cuts will hit poor litigants


Legal aid and justice issues are of concern to many citizens.

Since justice powers were devolved in 2010, successive legal aid budget reductions give particular cause for concern.

The rich don’t need legal aid, but the poor do.

Government austerity measures primarily affect the poor.

We are in this mess largely because, in the recent universal monetary crisis, the British government bailed out so many banks and financial institutions.

The public is now paying for the losses. By contrast, the Icelandic government let the failing inefficient banks fall, and, as a consequence, Iceland’s economy now flourishes to the benefit of all its citizens.

As stated in an old First World War British soldiers’ song, ‘It’s the poor wot gets the blame, it’s the rich wot gets the gravy.’ We’ve reached the stage again where, in the words of the Irish judge, Sir James Matthew (1830-1908), “Justice is open to all, like the Ritz Hotel”, if you can afford it.

The effects of the present stringent legal aid fund cuts are most disadvantageous for the potential poor litigant, and also for legal firms. Furthermore, the government is disingenuous in failing to acknowledge that it gets nearly half the money back in the taxation paid by lawyers from their annual earnings.

Neil C. Oliver, LLB, Newtownards