Legal Aid Offers Justice For All

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Thinking of a society without legal aid today is a bit worrying since legal aid is a way by which the government helps all individuals in the country to have access to their right to a fair trial. However, this piece is going to be an argumentative essay on the topic, “does legal aid offer justice for all?” For the sake of understanding, I would define legal aid as a “ministry of justice funded scheme which pays for a solicitor to represent an individual or a group of people in a case. Therefore, if one is accused of a serious crime, that person will qualify to have access to criminal legal aid” and if another person is in a dispute over property or family related problems like abuse and cannot afford to pay for practical help with such legal matters, that person also qualifies to have civil legal aid. This whole concept falls under the sections 1 and 12 of the “Access to Justice Act 1999”. With this, I stand for the motion that, legal aid does indeed offer justice for all. The rest of the essay is going to explain some points on both the civil and criminal legal aid which are going to serve as buttress roots for my stand and also talk about a few points the opposition are likely to use against my stand.

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First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the fact that because many of “the rates paid to legal aid solicitors have not changed in about 20 years, it stands the danger of being unsustainable for the trained solicitors who do the work and therefore making it harder for people to who desperately need it. But at the moment, it is doing its job which is to help people protect their rights and get a fair hearing”.

The opposition are likely to argue that, since it is a free service, it might not be carried with much passion and the end result may be that, justice will not be served as it should. But the issue at hand is not about the effectiveness but rather the policy and the need for legal aid. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that it is a challenge but since it is a service rendered by the government or private institutions, it is treated as service to the nation since it being paid for by the government through the taxes paid the citizens.

Also, if there was no such thing as legal aid, justice will only be available to only the well-to-do leaving the poor out which is not fair. This is because, leaving the poor people without justice because they cannot afford legal representation “undermines the right to a fair trial which is a right that is protected under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act”. Again, people who oppose my stand might argue that, good and well reputable lawyers are found in huge law firms and these lawyers always claim a huge sum of money from their client to represent them and most of the time, things go their way because of how experienced they are. But on the hand of the legal aid, the barristers and solicitors there are not very reputable and are paid by the government, sums of money which are not enough for them even now that the government has reduced the amount of money that goes into the area of legal aid. Thus, the legal aid concept is either a hit or miss of which in most cases it is a miss to those who are eligible to access it.

To counter that, I would say that, justice is well served when there is a fair trial and hearing and not just that, but when equal opportunity is given to both sides. It is not necessarily about winning the case or losing it but rather how the case was won or lost. Moreover, “access to justice does not mean access to a good lawyer but rather, it is about being able to enforce legitimately held legal rights”. However, it will interest us to know that, “more than 300 barristers have agreed to offer their services to the public by means of a scheme launched by the bar free of charge”, which means there are a lot of good lawyers out there have taken the interest of the public into consideration and have willingly decided to offer their time to the poor people in the country who need it. This is done as service to the nation.

In the area of civil matters, justice has always been served well, thanks to legal aid. However, it is in the area of family law that legal aid seems proves its utility the most, especially when it comes to biological parents of adopted children wanting to trace the whereabouts of their children or try to have custody of their children but cannot do so because they do not have enough money to combat that situation. Legal aid always comes to the rescue in such cases, just as it was done in the “C (Adoption Application: Legal Aid)” case. Not only does legal aid offer justice to everyone, it also gives the people who are poor the peace and comfort that they deserve with regards to legal matters since the legal aid is always there to help them with all kinds of legal issues.

Also, in the area of criminal offenses, legal aid also proves it utility with regards to the serving of justice when it is needed. “It may appear in this case that legal aid could be classified a human right because, we have an understanding as to what such concepts could be. This is because, article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights clearly states that, everyone charged with a criminal offence has some minimum rights to protect them which are; to defend themselves in person or through a legal assistance of their own choice or if they do not have sufficient funds to pay for legal assistance, they can have it for free when the interest of justice so requires”. Dicey’s first principle of the rule of law is applied in this case since the principle states that, “no man is punishable for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before ordinary legal courts of the land. ”

However, it would appear at first sight that, “there is no right to legal aid for civil law actions. In the Steel and “Morris v United Kingdom case”, the European court of Human Rights suggested that the rights could be based under Article 6 (1) of the European Convention on Human rights, which is the right to a fair trial”. As we all know, when there is a fair trial, justice is well served

To conclude, I still stand for the motion that legal aid as a concept indeed offers justice to all individuals because, it provides the poorer citizens of the country with a cheap, quick, authoritative and transparent means of making them equals with the well-to-do before the law. This is clearly in line with Dicey’s second principle of the rule of law which is about equality. It states that “everyman irrespective of his rank or condition is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amendable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals. ”


  1. John Antell, ‘The pros and cons of conditional fees and other ways of funding legal fees’ (Johnantell. co. uk, November 2017),,accessed 20 January 2018
  2. Access to Justice Act 1999
  3. No author, ‘How can legal aid help’ (Youtube. com, 5 April 2016), accessed 21 January 2018
  4. No author, ‘Legal Aid’ (Liberty-human-rightsorguk,), accessed 20 January 2018
  5. Human Rights Act 1998
  6. Jon Robins, ‘Quality of legal aid is as important as access to a lawyer’ (The guardian. com, 17 September 2010) accessed 21 January 2018
  7. Charles Wild and Stuart Weinstein, Smith and Keenan’s English Law (17th edn, Pearson 2013) pg. 145
  8. C (Adoption Application: Legal Aid) [1985] FLR 441n, [1985] Fam Law 197n
  9. Alisdair Gillespie, The English Legal System (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2009) pg 308
  10. Paul Craig, ‘The Rule Of Law’ (Www. parliament. uk), , accessed 25 January 2018
  11. Steel and Morris v United Kingdom (2005) 41 EHRR
  12. Alisdair Gillespie, The English Legal System (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2009) pg 308
  13. Paul Craig, ‘The Rule of Law’ (Www. parliament. uk), accessed 25 January 2018odes
31 October 2020

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