YLAL response to Magee

 



YLAL members are devoted to legal aid work because they are devoted to social justice for everyone. The Magee report puts the integrity of the justice system on the line: responsibility for policy resting with central government means that the interests of justice may be conflated with political expedience, public opinion and resources. The LSC was set up as a Non-Departmental Governmental Body in the first place to avoid this. Primary legislation must acknowledge the primacy of the interests of justice.



 


Even more important in terms of access to justice for our clients is that responsibility for decision making about funding must be subject to rigorous independent scrutiny. This should be judicial in order to comply with human rights. Independence, and the appearance of independence, in decisions about who gets access to justice is vital for a fair society. The government should not have any right of veto over claims against them. Access to justice must be transparent. Transfer of this level of decision making to central government will, at the very least, expose the government to accusations of undermining the rule of law, the principle of equality of arms, and the separation of powers.



 


YLAL calls on the government to ensure that if the Magee report is implemented, the primary legislation ensures that the interests of justice are the primary consideration for policy decisions and that decision making for funding is subject to independent, judicial scrutiny. Anything short of this will be unacceptable. YLAL also calls on the government to ensure that the good work begun by the LSC to ensure future legal aid lawyers through the provision of sponsored training contracts is continued as a matter of urgency.


 


Click here to read the Legal Action Group's comments on the Magee Report.