Prevent the UK from Denying Legal Aid to Vulnerable People

justice statue uk

Target: Justice Minister Chris Grayling

Goal: Prevent proposed legal aid changes denying aid to many vulnerable people from coming into effect.

A new proposal following a two-month long consultation by the United Kingdom’s government would make a variety of changes to the U.K. law code regarding free legal aid, denying it in a variety of cases to a number of vulnerable parties. Undocumented migrants would be denied access to legal aid, as would prisoners attempting to challenge their treatment (forcing them instead to complain to the prison faculty), and those attempting to challenge government policies, including asylum seekers. These changes deny legal aid to the vulnerable parties that need it the most, and cannot be allowed to be put into effect.

These changes are particularly damaging to refugees and asylum seekers who cannot return to their home countries under fear of torture or execution. Under the new laws, those whose cases are considered “borderline,” or less than 50% likely to succeed, are arbitrarily denied legal aid. Worse, asylum seekers whose claims for asylum are denied but nevertheless must remain in the U.K. are permanently barred from receiving legal aid for any type of case.

The proposal would also introduce a price-tendering system that would be an overall detriment to justice in the U.K. by granting less expensive firms cases without consulting clients. This denies clients their choice of legal representation, while simultaneously diminishing the quality of the U.K. legal system by running specialist firms out of business.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Justice Minister Chris Grayling,

The proposed changes to the United Kingdom’s justice system following the recent government referendum deny legal aid to a variety of highly vulnerable parties. In particular, they effectively prevent illegal migrants and prison inmates protesting their treatment from having their day in court, while denying aid to refugees and asylum seekers on arbitrary grounds. In addition, the proposed price-tendering system could only be a detriment to justice, and denies clients the important choice of who represents them.

Justice is a desire for all people, no matter how marginalized they are by society. By denying legal aid to parties who most need it, you are damaging the perceived fairness of the U.K.’s court system, as well as its international image. It is your responsibility as a Minister of Justice to prevent these changes from coming into effect, and to enshrine the rights of the people who make up the United Kingdom, no matter how small.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kiki via Wikimedia Commons

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