First 405 words of the document:
For people who want legal advice, there are 3 main problems.
Lack of knowledge
Fear of dealing with lawyers
Access to Justice:
If people cannot get the help they need, then they are being denied access to justice.
Access to justice involves both an open system of justice and also being able to fund the
costs of a case.
Schemes make the law more accessible. E.g. Citizens' Advice Bureau which was started in
Cases in the High Court will run into thousands of pounds.
Even in the cheaper county court the cost will possibly be more than the amount of money
recovered in damages.
In civil cases, the loser has to pay the winner's costs.
First legal aid scheme started in 1949 and has altered since then.
The Legal Services Commission:
The present funding scheme is overseen by the Legal Services Commission.
Set up by the Access to Justice Act 1999.
Responsible for identifying the needs and priorities of funding and developing the deliviery
of legal services in accordance with those needs.
In civil cases it is responsible for managing the Community Legal Service fund which pays for
legal funding in suitable cases.
The Commission also has a role in respect of criminal legal aid managing the Criminal Defence
For both civil and criminal cases the LSC can make contracts with providers of legal services
so that the providers can do legal work and be paid from government funds.
Providers include solicitors and the CAB.
Government funding in civil cases:
The Community Legal Service is responsible for funding of civil cases. It uses money from its
fund for these cases.
Provides services for civil matters in the following ways:
Legal help- Covers advice but doesn't include issuing or conducting court proceedings.
Help at court- this allows help/advice and advocacy at a court or tribunal, although without
formally acting as legal representative in the proceedings.
Legal representation- this covers all aspects of a case including starting or defending court
proceedings and any advocacy needed in the case.
Support funding- this allows partial funding of cases which are otherwise being paid for
privately, e.g. very high cost court case under a conditional fee agreement.
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The Community Legal Service Fund:
Set amount of money each year
Over £2.2 billion
Most will be spent on criminal cases, some goes to deal with civil cases.
There is a cap on amount given. Cannot take an unlimited amount of money from the budget.
Once it runs out, there is no more money.
Criminal cases take priority, so there may not be enough left for civil cases.
This can lead to refusal of civil cases even though they would be accepted.…read more
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This rule means that people are regarded as having too much disposable capital because of
the value of their house, but in reality they have no spare money.
Advice in civil cases:
The CLS provides various services to make sure that advice is readily available.
One example is a telephone service CLS Direct. This receives nearly a million calls a year,
many from disadvantaged societies.
Also has a website- www.clsdirect.org.uk.…read more
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Making of wills
Matters involving trust law
Most cases of defamation/malicious falsehood
Covers County Court, High Court and appeal courts.
Small claims cannot receive funding.
Most tribunal cases will not receive aid (Mental Health tribunals will)
Where cases involve liberty of the individual, funding is available.
Problems with funding of civil cases:
"advice deserts". Not enough legal service providers have contracts.
Smaller numbers of contracts made with providers by the LSC.…read more