STUDENT ID:1702132 DOES LEGALAID OFFER JUSTICE FOR ALL? Thinkingof a society without legal aid today is a bit worrying since legal aid is a wayby which the government helps all individuals in the country to have access to theirright to a fair trial.However,this piece is going to be an argumentative essay on the topic, “does legal aidoffer justice for all?”Forthe sake of understanding, I would define legal aid as a “ministry of justicefunded scheme which pays for a solicitor to represent an individual or a groupof people in a case. Therefore, if one is accused of a serious crime, thatperson will qualify to have access to criminal legal aid”1and if another person is in a dispute over property or family related problemslike abuse and cannot afford to pay for practical help with such legal matters,that person also qualifies to have civil legal aid.
This whole concept fallsunder the sections 1 and 12 of the “Access to Justice Act 1999”.2With this, I stand for the motion that, legal aid does indeed offer justice forall. The rest of the essay is going to explain some points on both the civiland criminal legal aid which are going to serve as buttress roots for my standand also talk about a few points the opposition are likely to use against mystand.
Firstand foremost, I would like to acknowledge the fact that because many of “therates paid to legal aid solicitors have not changed in about 20 years, itstands the danger of being unsustainable for the trained solicitors who do thework and therefore making it harder for people to who desperately need it. Butat the moment, it is doing its job which is to help people protect their rightsand get a fair hearing”.3 Theopposition are likely to argue that, since it is a free service, it might notbe carried with much passion and the end result may be that, justice will notbe served as it should. But the issue at hand is not about the effectivenessbut rather the policy and the need for legal aid. I would also like toacknowledge the fact that it is a challenge but since it is a service renderedby the government or private institutions, it is treated as service to thenation since it being paid for by the government through the taxes paid thecitizens. Also,if there was no such thing as legal aid, justice will only be available to onlythe well-to-do leaving the poor out which is not fair.
This is because, leavingthe poor people without justice because they cannot afford legal representation”undermines the right to a fair trial which is a right that is protected underArticle 6 of the Human Rights Act”.4,5 Again,people who oppose my stand might argue that, good and well reputable lawyersare found in huge law firms and these lawyers always claim a huge sum of moneyfrom their client to represent them and most of the time, things go their waybecause of how experienced they are. But on the hand of the legal aid, thebarristers and solicitors there are not very reputable and are paid by thegovernment, sums of money which are not enough for them even now that thegovernment has reduced the amount of money that goes into the area of legalaid. Thus, the legal aid concept is either a hit or miss of which in most casesit is a miss to those who are eligible to access it. Tocounter that, I would say that, justice is well served when there is a fairtrial and hearing and not just that, but when equal opportunity is given toboth sides. It is not necessarily about winning the case or losing it butrather how the case was won or lost.
Moreover, “access to justice does not meanaccess to a good lawyer but rather, it is about being able to enforce legitimatelyheld legal rights”.6 However,it will interest us to know that, “more than 300 barristers have agreed tooffer their services to the public by means of a scheme launched by the barfree of charge”. 7which means there are a lot of good lawyers out there have taken the interestof the public into consideration and have willingly decided to offer their timeto the poor people in the country who need it. This is done as service to thenation. In the area of civil matters,justice has always been served well, thanks to legal aid. However, it is in thearea of family law that legal aid seems proves its utility the most, especiallywhen it comes to biological parents of adopted children wanting to trace thewhereabouts of their children or try to have custody of their children butcannot do so because they do not have enough money to combat that situation.Legal aid always comes to the rescue in such cases, just as it was done in the “C (Adoption Application: Legal Aid)”8case.Not only does legalaid offer justice to everyone, it also gives the people who are poor the peaceand comfort that they deserve with regards to legal matters since the legal aidis always there to help them with all kinds of legal issues.
Also, in the area ofcriminal offenses, legal aid also proves it utility with regards to the servingof justice when it is needed. “It may appear in this case that legal aid couldbe classified a human right because, we have an understanding as to what suchconcepts could be. This is because, article 6 of the European Convention onHuman Rights clearly states that, everyone charged with a criminal offence hassome minimum rights to protect them which are; to defend themselves in personor through a legal assistance of their own choice or if they do not havesufficient funds to pay for legal assistance, they can have it for free whenthe interest of justice so requires”.9Dicey’s first principle of the rule of law is applied in this case since the principlestates that, “no man is punishable for a distinct breach of law established inthe ordinary legal manner beforeordinary legal courts of the land.”10 However, it would appear at first sight that, “thereis no right to legal aid for civil law actions. In the Steel and “Morris vUnited Kingdom case”11,the European court of Human Rights suggested that the rights could be basedunder Article 6 (1) of the European Convention on Human rights, which is theright to a fair trial”.
12As we all know, when there is a fair trial, justice is well served To conclude, I still stand for the motion thatlegal aid as a concept indeed offers justice to all individuals because, itprovides the poorer citizens of the country with a cheap, quick, authoritativeand transparent means of making them equals with the well-to-do before the law.This is clearly in line with Dicey’s second principle of the rule of law whichis about equality. It states that “everyman irrespective of his rank orcondition is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amendable to thejurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals.”13 1 John Antell, ‘The pros and cons of conditional feesand other ways of funding legal fees’ (Johnantell.co.uk, November 2017 ),< http://www.johnantell.co.uk/conditional-fees-and-other-means-of-funding>,accessed 20 January 20182Access to Justice Act 19993 No author, ‘How can legal aid help’ (Youtube.com, 5 April 2016),