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Title: Civil Legal Aid in England and Wales 1914 to 1961 : The Emergence of a Paid Scheme
Author: Goriely, Tamara
ISNI:       0000 0004 2676 1828
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 2003
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The thesis traces the emergence of civil legal aid in England and Wales from the introduction of a charitable Poor Persons Procedure in 1914 to the last major expansion of civil legal aid (to domestic proceedings in magistrates' courts) in 1961. Drawing on archive material from the Public Record Office, Law Society and National Council of Social Service, it explains why a scheme in which the state paid lawyers to represent individual citizens in civil claims developed during this period. Previous accounts tend to see legal aid as either the inevitable expression of a grand principle, or as a demand-creation exercise by lawyers. The thesis proposes a more complex picture, based on four factors: first, a clearly visible social problem (the inaccessibility of divorce to the 'respectable' working classes); second, an ideological justification (which rallied around the slogan of equality before the law); third, an existing infrastructure (namely the charitable in pauperis procedure); and last, an alliance of interest groups. In analysing the influence of different interest groups, I argue that the organised legal profession did not take the initiative in campaigning for legal aid. Instead, the initial pressure came from a loose coalition of social work groups and idealistic lawyers. Faced with a social problem, the government responded. Only when the pressure became irresistible did the Law Society co-opt the scheme, and bend it to its own purposes. These purposes were primarily ideological rather than economic: to provide legal services to the poor is to assert the universal importance of what lawyers do. Until 1944, the Law Society opposed a paid scheme. Payment became necessary to relieve the burden of voluntary service rather than to create new markets.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available