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Title: Exploring the impact of the cuts to civil legal aid introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act [2012] on vulnerable people : the experience of law centres
Author: Byrom, Natalie Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 6463
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the impact of the cuts to civil legal aid introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) (“LASPO”) on the ability of those who are vulnerable to access justice. In doing so it focuses on the experience of UK Law Centres, a network of not-for-profit providers of legal advice and representation. Law Centres were established in the 1970’s as a response to acknowledged deficiencies in the legal aid scheme that existed at this time. Principal amongst these deficiencies was the failure of the scheme to provide legal assistance to those individuals who were most in need of it. Since their inception Law Centres have developed a reputation for specialising in the delivery of legal services to marginalised communities, making them an ideal lens through which to observe the impact of cuts to legal aid on the vulnerable. This thesis explores the relationship between the Law Centres movement and the legal aid scheme; characterising this as one of reluctant yet increasing dependency. By the time LASPO was introduced, contracts for the delivery of legal aid comprised 46% of the funding for Law Centres in England and Wales, leaving Law Centres highly exposed to the swingeing cuts brought about by this legislation. The thesis seeks to understand the impact of LASPO on Law Centres as a movement, and in particular on their ability to deliver services to those individuals who are most vulnerable. In the absence of a consensus definition of what a Law Centre is, the thesis reviews the extant literature on the Law Centres movement to propose an “ideal type” framework of Law Centre values, which can be used as a tool against which to evaluate the impact of different strategies for surviving the cuts. It proposes a novel definition of vulnerability, to assist in assessing whether the strategies adopted by Law Centres in response to LASPO are likely to prove more or less effective in enabling the movement to prioritise delivering their services to those who are in greatest need. The thesis then uses these analytical tools to evaluate the three most popular funding models adopted by Law Centres in response to the cuts, drawing on original empirical research. The thesis concludes that if Law Centres wish to retain both their unique position within the landscape of legal service providers and their ability to support those in greatest need, their response to LASPO must by driven by cognisance of and fidelity to the values that render them distinctive.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: KF Common Law, British Isles