Examining The Complicated Scope Of Legal Aid Systems

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Legal aid helps with the costs of legal advice for people who cant afford it. If anyone needs help with the costs of legal advice, he can apply for legal aid. Whether he will receive it depends on: the type of legal problem he has; his income (how much he earn) and how much capital (money, property, belongings) he has; whether there is a reasonable chance of winning his case and whether it is worth the time and money needed to win. The legal aid scheme was set up after World War 2 by the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 [1] in UK. The Legal Aid system was mainly introduced to help people who otherwise would not be able to afford it, to gain access the courts. It therefore enabled them to get a fair hearing and resolve legal problems. Legal Aid is central to a society based on social justice. It is there to help everyone who really needs it. And by reducing discrimination based on a person’s financial standing, it enables fair access for all to the courts. We have to remember that before Legal Aid was introduced, many people could not afford to get the protection of our legal system due to the high costs involved. Thus, the aim of the Legal Services Commission [2] is to make quality legal aid accessible to everyone thereby ensuring effective delivery of justice and legal advice. The aims and objectives of it are, help people to resolve their legal problems as soon as possible make it easier for people to get legal help especially if they belong to a disadvantaged group help people find alternatives to going to court Provide a high quality legal service.


Prior to Access to Justice Act (AJA) – 1999 [3] in UK, legal aid service was based upon demand laid system. The system became increasingly expensive to run while catering for fewer and fewer people. In 1950, 80% of the community was covered by legal aid provision. In 1998, the provision of legal aid had fallen to less than 40% [4] . From the mid 1980s, various Lord Chancellor tried to reform the system. Their task was made acute by the fact that expenditure on legal aid doubled to £1.4 billion over a four year period to 1995. A variety of reforms were attempted. Payment systems were changed, eligibility criteria revised and control shifted from the Law Society to the Legal Aid Board (Legal Aid Act 1998) [5] . In 1997, Labour government suggested that there might be a change in the direction of legal aid policy [6] . A number of the changes have been made by the Children Act – 1989 [7] and the Courts and Legal Services Act – 1990 [8] . In 1993, two significant changes were made. Standard fees for criminal legal aid in the Magistrates Courts were introduced and the practice of franchising was initiated. However, over the past seven years,

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