Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke went straight to the top of the news bulletins yesterday afternoon, as the government unveiled proposals to cut £350m from legal aid budgets and a second consultation into the Jackson report.
It seems the Legal Action Group’s survey late last week fell on deaf ears and free legal advice is living on borrowed time. Kenneth Clarke delivered his address to the commons yesterday and the BBC has produced a useful overview of the announcement, although the mainstream media’s focus is primarily on the legal aid portion of the MOJ’s plan. Perhaps the most interesting angle comes from the Telegraph, which given its propensity to tackle MPs’ expenses claims, points out that they’ll no longer be able to get help defending themselves.
Radio 4 spent the vast majority of its air time re-quoting Law Society CEO Des Hudson’s question to Mr Clarke, “what if you are not rich or mighty? How will you get access to justice?” he said.
The Minister’s response was to point out what seems like an opportunity for the private sector and presumably legal expenses insurers. Mr Clarke answered that no-win-no-fee will apply in certain circumstances to those areas abandoned by civil legal aid under the proposals, namely divorce; clinical negligence and certain types of employment claims.
On the second issue of costs in civil litigation, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers was quick to get its point of view across. The lion’s share of coverage from the insurance trade press revolves around Clarke’s fellow justice minister Jonathan Djanogly and his statement on costs recoverability. Insurance Times explains the key proposal to abolish recoverability on CFAs with interested parties invited to get their ten cents worth to the MOJ no later than Valentine’s Day 2011.