The changes that come into force on Monday, 1 April 2013, see legal aid removed from entire areas of civil law, including family law cases.
The reforms are being made in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO).
Areas which will no longer qualify for funding include family law cases where couples are divorcing and sorting out living arrangements for their children, unless there is proven domestic violence.
Cases that will continue to receive funding include family law cases involving domestic violence; forced marriage or child abduction issues; mental health cases; asylum; and debt and housing matters where someone’s home is at immediate risk.
The Law Society says “people could start taking the law into their own hands as a result of an inability to seek justice following the government’s civil legal aid cuts”.
Certainly, as a result of LASPO more people will attempt to represent themselves before a court.
It is a political question and down to cost cutting; and the balance is against access to justice for all.
Certainly, as a result of LASPO, more people than ever before will find themselves going to court without legal representation.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We need to make sure taxpayers’ money is not spent resolving too many disputes in court, when there are quicker, cheaper and less stressful options available”.
The UK’s most senior judge, Lord Neuberger, has previously said he has concerns about the legal aid cuts.
They could “start to undermine the rule of law because people will feel like the government isn’t giving them access to justice in all sorts of cases”, he said.
“And that will either lead to frustration and lack of confidence in the system, or it will lead to people taking the law into their own hands.”