As you may be aware, the deadline for responding within the Legal Aid Proposed Cuts consultation is imminent i.e. 12pm 14.02.2011. If you have not done so already, may I urge all legal aid firms, not-for-profit organisations and supporters of legal aid generally to send in their responses. I will keep this post short for fear of nagging too much but as well as the ILPA response, the Law Society has now put together its own thoughts. Relating to immigration matters, it agrees that:
“Cases such as refugee family reunion, cases involving victims of domestic violence, deportation and other family applications usually involve complex legal issues including the Article 8 right to family life and are of profound importance to the applicant. It is not feasible for applicants to represent themselves on these issues and there is no alternative to specialist advice as it is a legal requirement for all immigration advisors who are not solicitors or barristers to be accredited.” [p.5]
NB: Further reading and campaigning on defending legal aid can also be accessed here, including a transcript of the MPs’ debate in parliament last week (see in particular Keith Vaz highlighting UKBA’s poor first-instance decision-making skills) and the “Sound Off for Justice” movement.