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Legal aid news: July 2019

Welcome to our update of the latest legal aid and access to justice news from July 2019.

Celebrating 70 years of legal aid: On 30 July 1949  the Legal Aid and Advice Act received royal assent, creating the legal aid scheme. The 30 July 2019 therefore saw the 70th anniversary of this important step in the campaign for access to justice. In order to celebrate and highlight the significance of this milestone, the Justice Alliance organised a large gathering outside the Ministry of Justice.

Statement: Report by UN Special Rapporteur

Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) welcomes the publication today (22 May 2019) of the final report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, following his visit to the United Kingdom in November 2018.

The UN Special Rapporteur rightly states that legal aid has been "dramatically reduced" in England and Wales since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). The report notes that the number of cases funded by civil legal aid "declined by a staggering 82 per cent between 2010-11 and 2017-18".

Statement on legal aid for Shamima Begum

Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) notes the media reports stating that legal aid funding will be granted to Shamima Begum, the Bethnal Green schoolgirl who travelled to Syria to join ISIS at the age of 15.

YLAL staunchly believes that public funding should be available to all those who cannot afford to pay for their own legal advice and representation. Access to justice is a fundamental human right, and a crucial component of the rule of law in our democratic society.