Take Action – get your MP to sign the EDM on access to justice
Please write to your MP and ask them to sign the EDM below on access to local legal advice. The easiest way to do this is through http://www.writetothem.com/ This will only take 5 minutes of your time.
ACCESS TO LOCAL LEGAL ADVICE
That this House welcomes the Local Legal Advice Review undertaken for the Ministry of Justice; notes that the economic recession has triggered a significant rise in the demand for legal aid and legal advice at the very time when the future of local advice agencies has been put in doubt by the Legal Service Commission’s decision to proceed with plans to commission community legal advice centres and networks through a competitive tender process; further notes the very real concerns voiced by Citizens Advice and others that the procurement model adopted by the Legal Service Commission will result in services which do not best meet the needs of clients and communities and do not protect those multiple points of access that are so vital in making certain that help and advice is available where it is most needed; and calls on the Ministry of Justice to ensure that the existing community legal advice centres are evaluated for their effectiveness in meeting advice needs in communities, particularly the needs of vulnerable groups, those in debt, and those living in less accessible parts of the community, before any further tenders are rolled out.
You may wish to use the standard wording below
I am writing as a member of YLAL to ask you to consider signing EDM 675 on access to local legal advice. YLAL is a group of lawyers who are committed to practising in those areas of law, both criminal and civil, that have traditionally been publicly funded. The group includes those who are still studying and training as well as recently qualified barristers and solicitors. We share in common a strong belief in the importance of good quality representation and advice at all levels to those who could otherwise not afford it
One of the features of the legal aid reforms so far has been the lack of research into the impact of these reforms on the most vulnerable in society before the changes are implemented. As the Ministry of Justice has now agreed to carry out a local legal aid review, we call on the government not to proceed with the competitive tendering process which threatens to damage local legal aid users and providers before a full evaluation has been done of the existing community legal advice centres.
I hope that you feel able to sign the EDM and ask your colleagues to consider signing as well. [I would be glad to have an opportunity to discuss these concerns further with you and can be contacted on …….]