YLAL Meeting Minutes 13.07.2016

YLAL Monthly Meeting – July 2016

Attendees: Rachel, Ollie, John, Imogen, Francis, Ian, Gift, Nathan, Phil, Nina, Callum, Catriona, Karolina, Richard, Martin, Andrea, Daniel, Kate, Louise, Rachel, Maia, Matt, Mark, Anastasia, Emily, Eva, Sophie and others.

1.Welcome and introduction

2.Campaigning for Access to Justice: How to Think Like Campaigners
We were joined by campaigner and journalist Emma Howard (of Greenpeace and the Guardian), who spoke to us about campaigning aims and strategy. We discussed what a positive, proactive campaign for access to justice might look like (rather than reactive campaigns in which we’ve been engaged for the past few years against government cuts / changes to legal aid).  

She told us we need to consider for a campaign:-

o   What do you want to change?

o   How will you change it?

o   Why this?

o   Why now?

o   Who am I trying to influence?

o   Whose mind am I trying to change?

We discussed what we would most like to change in the current legal aid system, to bring about more access to justice and had fantastic ideas coming from our members at the meeting. 

YLAL is planning a campaign to repeal the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (‘LASPO’) and replace it with a new Access to Justice Act. LASPO brought in huge changes to the legal aid system, including large areas of law being cut completely out of scope for legal aid. Campaigning for legislative change is clearly an ambitious, huge and difficult project, but we want to raise awareness, start the debate, engage with political parties, and provide a framework for discussion about access to justice. We are going to prepare a short overview of what our new access to justice scheme would look like, in an ideal world.

If you want to do more for access to justice, and get involved in our campaign, please join our YLAL Campaigns subgroup.

The most recent meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Legal Aid was on 12 July and covered the latest legal aid statistics. YLAL co-ordinates the APPG with the Legal Aid Practitioners Group. YLAL co-chair Ollie spoke about the reduction in the number of civil cases funded by legal aid, alongside Steve Hynes from Legal Action Group and Nimrod Ben-Cnaan of the Law Centres Network. The APPG is chaired by Keir Starmer MP and is generally attended by 5-10 parliamentarians but usually not by any from the party (or parties) in government.

Our next event in London is a Summer Party from 6:30pm on Wednesday 10 August in Lincoln’s Inn Fields – for full details, see our website here