A couple of weeks ago this was left by a contributor:-
Devastating example of impact of LASPO on civil legal aid given by Dave Emerson to Justice Committee:
"I was sitting as a judge yesterday in a family case, in a London family court, where a young woman came before me. She was physically disabled. She had to come into court with crutches so it was not easy for her to carry her papers. Attached to her application was her refusal of exceptional funding from the Legal Aid Agency. She had modest learning difficulties and her father with her. She was making an application to see her child who was in care. There was an order that she sees her child three times a year and she was looking to increase that. The special guardian who was in court, who was ironically funded by the local authority, was there with a social worker, and they were seeking to decrease the amount of contact she had. She started by making representations that she had written down, so she was able to explain what her case was. But it was abundantly clear, once the lawyer from the other side had started making representations, that she could not deal with them at all. She did not understand the nuances of the case against her and could not adjust to deal with it. It is absolutely appalling that this woman, who now faces possibly not seeing her child again, should not get representation.
The form itself is almost 30 pages long and you need a doctorate in law to complete it. In informal discussions—Resolution and the Legal Aid Agency—they have almost agreed that, if a litigant in person is able to complete that form, they are almost able to show that they are able to represent themselves, so it is self‑defeating. In the statistics, you will see that there is only a handful of applications from people themselves rather than through lawyers. There is no funding to make the application."
It got me quite depressed and pondering on what sort of society we are becoming, all in the name of 'reforms' and austerity? For the first time ever I found myself asking if I really wanted to be part of a society where prison suicides are rising? The poor are sanctioned? The ill punished? The low-paid go hungry? etc etc., and all at the same time as the Tories seem able to claim their fiscal measures have been a huge success and entitle them to believe they can win a majority in the General Election.
We've had evidence of the MoJ trying to hide the truth about what's happening in jails by refusing visits from journalists, an attempt to silence an academic from linking suicides to staff shortages, the Church of England top brass saying things are getting bad, and the Church of Rome voicing concerns, but it all seems to make no impression.
With the opposition so feeble and disorganised, as far as I can see the only cause for hope has been provided by the vagaries of lady luck in the shape of superbly timed 'events'. The HSBC banking scandal completely scuppered the carefully stage-managed political election posturing by all the main parties and instead got us all focused on fat cat tax cheats - brilliant!
Ever since Tony Blair and his Prince of Darkness were able to demonstrate the ease with which the news agenda could be 'managed', and democracy took another turn for the worst, our only hope of getting any real political debate going has been via leaks or whistle blowing. Don't you just love it when politicians prove their credentials as self-serving bastards when they so easily succumb to the classic honey trap, provided in this case by flattery from a young Chinese woman offering loadsa money?
Oh how sweet to see that arse Jack Straw finally having his political career terminated. It very neatly scuppered another weeks-worth of stage-managed crap from our political leaders and firmly put back on the agenda exactly what value we get out of this bunch elected on our behalf. I wonder what's coming next week?
It's all been pure political gold in my view, getting Tory grandee Sir Malcolm Rifkind on the record having the bare-faced to cheek saying he's 'self-employed', doesn't get a salary and has 'lots of spare time'. Another political career terminated in just a few 'misjudged' words and one can only imagine David Cameron's fury in response. With the House of Lords already embarrassingly full to bursting, it's no ermine for either me thinks!
Having indulged in a little Schadenfreude, I think I'll stop here and end with something I saw on twitter that seems to sum things up nicely.