It’s a bold move: Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced yesterday that he would be considering removing legal aid as it stands for private family law cases, on the basis that it was too expensive and part of one of the most costly legal aid systems in the world.
A lot of people will no doubt be in shock at the news. There are perhaps two obvious points which strike at the heart of the legal aid dilemma: the first is that our legal aid system is expensive because unlike most countries we have historically aspired as a nation to provide for the most vulnerable in society, in a complete and humane way. The other is that we really should be looking at this problem from another angle – namely reducing the cost of the process so that we can keep helping the most vulnerable who have to go through it.
This to my mind seems a sensible option. If we had a system that ran properly and didn’t use ten people to do the job of one, we could save legal aid and remain committed to being progressive.
I usually do a “judge of the week” post to highlight the great work some of our judges do in the field of family law, but this news has inspired me to create a new Honour for those whose work leave little to be desired. I shall call it “Fudge of the Week”. The first award goes to our Justice Secretary.
Sometimes, being radical is overrated.