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Cheap Justice is no Justice

At the beginning of September 2014, the Children’s Rights Commissioner published a report entitled The Impact of Legal Aid Changes on Children since April 2013. It used hard hitting language to describe the fact that many teenagers and vulnerable young adults had been ‘abandoned to hostile bureacracies.’ The view was expressed that they had been denied assistance with ‘navigating complex legal procedures’ and that there were ‘countless heartrending stories’ of children being denied justice. This is a lamentable state of affairs for a country whose justice system has for decades been the model for many fledgling democracies around the world. Lawyers are skilled at telling young people about their legal rights – it’s one of the things that they have spent years training to do. It is therefore with particular sadness that the Executive Summary of the report makes reference to the fact that ‘the majority of interviewees did not know that the issue they faced was potentially a legal matter, capable of being resolved by recourse to the law.’ It has to be said that there is a kind of insane logic in the Government’s thinking. It’s got to be cheaper not to inform people about their legal rights!

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