Legal Aid Reform

Until politicians of whatever party stop thinking they know best and start engaging with the people who work in the Justice Systems, Government efforts at “reform” will fail.
The same applies to health and education.
Too much reliance on “consultants” and so-called experts has lead to huge problems due to a disjointed approach and an over politisisation of what should be really simple. Why? Because the poiticians do not understand the systems they are messing with and rely on “experts” to guide them.
The current obsession with cutting legal aid spend is a fine example. The Justice Committee has already established what every legal aid lawyer already knew which is that Government policy, police policy and penal policy drives legal aid spend. It rises or falls as a result of who can get legal aid, for what areas of law legal aid is available and the fee to be claimed. It is not driven by lawyers.
However, because the politicians-and their advisers-wont address the real costs drivers-because that could lead to embarrassing decisons-they attack legal aid rates of pay.
This is teh equivalent of the Department of health seeking a “saving” by cutting how much is spent on blood without thinking about why blood is needed. Disaster strikes.
This has already happened in relation to family law. The system is in meltdown-why? Because there has not been a planned, holistic process of reform. Allied to that Ministers were seduced by the promise of mediation peddaled by mediation fanatics-who offered it up as a direct alternative to Court. That too has shown to be a lie. Mediation works best as part of a Court based process-not as a direct alternative to it.