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Friday 1st July 2011
01/07/2011 - Mounting concerns over legal aid cuts

The government's plans to cut legal aid in England and Wales return to Parliament later, amid opposition from lawyers and campaigners. The Ministry of Justice aims to cut £300m from the £2.1bn legal aid bill.

Under the plans, people will not be eligible for legal aid in a far broader range of civil cases than at present. The Law Society said the bill would hit the "weak and vulnerable", but Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said legal aid funded some unnecessary litigation.

Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, ministers say they want to end legal aid for:
• Private family law cases, such as divorce and custody battles
• Clinical negligence claims
• Employment and education law
• Immigration, other than where someone is detained
• Some debt, housing and benefit issues.

The government says that domestic violence cases will still receive legal aid and it intends to expand the definition to include mental and sexual abuse.

Mr Clarke has told MPs that the current system "too often encourages people to bring their problems before the courts, even when they are not the right place to provide good solutions and sometimes for litigation that people paying out of their own pocket would not have pursued." He added that legal aid had expanded into areas beyond its original scope.

Michelle Grove - Partner


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