As the Government reviews the implementation of LASPOA, we look at access to legal aid and the impact of legal aid cuts on society.

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Full programme below:

Morning chair Yogi Amin, Irwin Mitchell

10.00 – Introduction
Jo Hickman, Director, Public Law Project

10.05 – Opening Address: ‘A right to justice’

The Right Honourable Lord Willy Bach

10.25 – Legal Aid and low income

Today the legal aid system only provides for people on the very lowest incomes and even those receiving out of work benefits are often excluded due the value of their homes being taken into account.  Millions with low working incomes cannot afford to pay legal costs, whilst the numbers struggling to reach an acceptable standard of living has risen significantly.  This talk looks at how austerity and legal aid cuts interact.

Prof Donald Hirsch, Loughborough University

11.00 – Top legal aid and access to justice cases of recent years
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) has generated a significant number of cases challenging the legislation and its implementation on behalf of those affected.  Alison will look at the impact of the cases and some themes running through them.

Alison Pickup, Public Law Project

11.45 – Break

12.00 – The experiences of self-representing litigants
This presentation concerns a three year project interviewing litigants in person (LIPS). Although Jess’s work focuses on the family court, the presentation will consider common problems facing those appearing in court without representation.

Jess Mant, Cardiff University

12.20 – Morning breakout sessions (choose one of three):

1. Exceptional Case Funding

There are Common misconceptions regarding what is out of scope of Exceptional Case Funding (ECF), immigration and housing in particular.  This session look at how to apply for ECF, common problems and what we know about success rates.

Joe Markus and James Stark, Garden Court North

Katy Watts, Public Law Project

2. Legal aid and access to justice for modern slavery victims.

This session will look at immigration legal aid for modern slavery victims and a recent judicial review of the Legal Aid Agency when legal aid was refused for a victim. It will also look at cases highlighting why legal aid is essential to build the case of leave to remain during the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) process and to challenging unlawful decisions on leave.

Lucy Mair, Garden Court North

Carita Thomas, Anti – Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)

3. Access to justice, the media and legal aid  

This session looks at how access to justice issues are framed by the media and asks how stories picked up by mainstream media can help refocus public opinion and, hopefully, Government policy. Examples will include the recent Windrush scandal and the profile and perception of the ‘hostile environment’ policies, and the increasing public awareness around unrepresented litigants. The session will also look at FOIA requests and working with journalists.

Will Bordell, The Justice Gap

 Mary-Rachel McCabe, Doughty Street Chambers

13.15 – Lunch

14.15 – What are appropriate advice models for social welfare law?’

This debate will ask what advice models are appropriate for areas of legal advice removed from the scope of legal aid, including benefits, early housing advice and non-asylum immigration.

Chair: Jo Chimes, Greater Manchester Welfare Rights Advisers Group (GMWRAG)

Panellists: Diane Astin, Deighton Pierce Glynn

Graham Tegg, Kent Law Clinic, University of Kent

Kayliegh Richardson, Northumbria Law School

Nimrod Ben Cnaan, Law Centre’s Network (tbc)

15.00 – Afternoon breakout sessions (choose one of two):

4. Preparing evidence for the LASPOA review

This session will seek to help organisations or individuals preparing to feed into the Governments review of LASPOA implementation.  It will look at evidence gathering and presentation and how to show insight from your clients or your organisations perspective.
Jess Mant, Cardiff University
Carol Storer OBE, Legal Aid Practitioners Group
Emma Marshall, Public Law Project

5. Challenging procurement and grant funding decisions – what you need to know

Legal Aid Agency contracts, bids for grant funding and other public contracts, practice and procedure:  the Public Contracts Regulations and judicial review
Polly Brendon, Public Law Project
Jason Coppell QC, 11KBW 

16.00 – Break

16.15 – What is the duty on the state to ensure access to justice?

Chair: Carol Storer, LAPG

Panellists: Richard Miller, Justice Lead, The Law Society

Jo Hickman, Public Law Project

James Stark, Garden Court North

Eric Allison, Prison Correspondent, The Guardian


17.00 – Close