Senior judge challenges government over lack of funding for legal aid

During a recent case relating to the removal of a child by Swindon borough council from his parents, both of whom have learning difficulties, Senior judge Sir James Munby has accused the government of ‘washing its hands of the problem’ and handed down a judgement that ‘some state agency’ should pay the costs of legal representation.

The judgement is the second time that Sir Munby has ordered the courts service to pay for legal representation that parliament has withdrawn. In the case, Munby explained that the parents do not qualify for legal aid but lack the financial resources for legal representation, he continued to state that to require them to appear without representation would be ‘a breach of their rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the [European convention on human rights].’

The case illustrates the growing confrontation between the judiciary and the executive over who controls spending in the courts.

Please sign our petition to save legal aid and stop the government gambling with our justice system.

To read the full case, see here.

To read a Guardian newspaper article on the subject, please see Bowcott, O. ‘Government ‘washing its hands’ of legal aid problem for vulnerable parents‘, The Guardian, 31 October, 2014.

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The government is fragmenting the justice system, privatising policing, probation and prison services, closing courts, slashing the legal aid budget and making drastic cuts to funding. This will undermine the system, reduce access to justice and put public safety at risk.

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