The House of Lords has shot down the ninth iteration of the new legal aid bill in a recent vote by peers where issue was taken with mandatory telephone advice line use, personal injury compensation experts recently revealed.
The bill, which has sought to shave £350 million a year in savings from the Ministry of Justice’s civil legal aid budget, has faced criticism and resistance from both ministers and accident claim experts alike. Now, the central reforms of the bill, such as the limitations to contingent fee arrangements commonly made by no win no fee solicitors, will leave ministers having to reconsider the bill yet again.
The latest go-round found MPs issuing the warning that making it a requirement for those with speech impediments or learning disabilities to seek aid over the phone could be counterproductive. Former Paralympic athlete, Lady Grey-Thompson, called it a matter of false economy, as these classes of Brits would need an in-person interview in order to hear their case fairly.
She also said that filling in a form on the internet or switching all applications to a telephone interview would only result in a minimal savings of around £1 million to £2 million on an annual basis, if even that. Grey-Thompson said that while telephone operators would receive a modicum of training, the proper legal training will be completely nonexistent, leading to negligible savings while also risking the exclusion of the vulnerable from access to justice.