The crisis in the justice system in England & Wales

The Bach Commission

The Bach Commission on Access to Justice 

This report summarises the work of the Bach Commission on Access to Justice from its inception in January 2016 through to November 2016. It presents the Commission’s conclusions on the current state of access to justice and indicates initial thoughts on policy recommendations for the future.

The Commission has identified six key features of the justice system which undermine its ability to provide justice for all:

1. Fewer people can access financial support for a legal case

2. Exceptional case funding has failed to deliver for those in need

3. Public legal education and legal advice are inadequate and disjointed

4. High court and tribunal fees are preventing people pursuing legal claims

5. Bureaucracy in the Legal Aid Agency is costly and time-consuming

6. Out of date technologies keep the justice system wedded to the past 

The solution to these entrenched problems cannot simply be to reverse the LASPO cuts in their entirety and expand the legal aid budget indefinitely. Instead, the Commission hopes to devise plans to simplify the legal system, use new technologies, focus on the journey of the user through the system and build public support – as well as looking at reversing some of the deepest and least cost-effective LASPO cuts.

With the above principles guiding our work, the Commission plans to develop proposals to:

•  Establish a minimum standard for access to justice in Britain

•  Reform legal aid by considering: the reform or replacement of the LAA

•  Transform legal education for the public

•  Increase the availability of legal advice

•  Increase technological innovation 

 

Click here to download the report >>

The number of law centres has halved between 2005 and 2015. From 2009-10 to 2013-14, there was a drop in 90 per cent of people getting access to legal advice or assistance for social welfare issues. Courts and tribunal fees are increasing, making it impossible for the poorest to access the legal system at all. Access to justice, and thus the rule of law, is under threat.

The Bach Commission on Access to Justice is building a comprehensive evidence base in order to create policy with cross-party appeal to restore access to justice as a fundamental public entitlement.