Taken from Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2015 page 124
9.6 Ensuring access to justice
Access to justice is an essential part of a free society and a
functioning legal system. In this Parliament we have had to make
significant savings from the Legal Aid budget, but in the next
Parliament our priority for delivering efficiency in the Ministry of
Justice should be prison and court reform, using technology and
innovation to reduce costs.
- Review the criminal Legal Aid market and ensure there are no
further savings without an impact assessment as to the viability of
a competitive and diverse market of Legal Aid providers.
- Reduce pressure on the criminal Legal Aid budget by requiring
company directors to take out insurance against prosecution
for fraud and permitting the use of restrained assets to pay
reasonable legal bills.
- Carry out an immediate review of civil Legal Aid, judicial review
and court fees, in consultation with the judiciary, to ensure Legal
Aid is available to all those who need it, that those of modest
means can bring applications for judicial review of allegedly
unlawful government action and that court and tribunal fees will
not put justice beyond the reach of those who seek it. This will
mean reversing any recent rises in up-front court fees that make
justice unaffordable for many, and instead spreading the fee
burden more fairly.
- Retain access to recoverable success fees and insurance
premiums in asbestosis claims and where an individual is
suing the police; and also for both claimant and defendant in
publication and data protection claims, except where one party is
significantly better resourced than the other.
- Promote the use of alternative buildings for magistrates courts
and local dispute resolution programmes like Community Justice
Panels to bring justice back into the community.
- Support innovation like the provision of civil justice online and
expansion of alternative dispute resolution procedures.
- Encourage the widespread use of mediation for separating
couples, while protecting access to the family courts where
- Develop a strategy that will deliver advice and legal support to
help people with everyday problems like personal debt and social
welfare issues, working across government and involving nonprofit
To read the full Lib Dem Manifesto 2015: