Insights & News

Legal aid abolishment

Justice is now only available to the wealthy

In today’s world, justice, a basic human right, has become a luxury only the wealthy can afford. The reason behind this disparity? The abolition of Legal Aid.

Understanding the problem

In the past, legal aid helped people who were wronged but didn’t have the financial means to afford legal representation. This system ensured that financial limitations wouldn’t obstruct the path to justice. Yet, due to government cuts, its effectiveness was reduced. Only specific cases, such as criminal offences and specific sections of family law, qualified for legal aid. Civil cases, however, weren’t prioritised, and people had to seek out alternative funding.

The chain of events

The government, in an attempt to counterbalance the loss of Legal Aid, introduced the “no win, no fee agreement.” A model that initially seemed promising, it allowed solicitors to charge only upon a successful case outcome. But there was a catch. The client was now responsible for all costs if they lost, adding significant financial jeopardy should the case be unsuccessful.

To further complicate the situation, insurance models, such as After the Event (‘ATE’) Insurance, offered some reprieve but also brought their own financial burdens. Costs, premiums, and the relinquishing of rights to claim certain fees transformed the landscape yet again. With the rise of damage-based agreements, the market saw the emergence of alternative funders, whose hefty fees further marginalised the average person.

CWD’s solution in this complexity

While the legal world may seem complex, firms like CWD offer clients a lifeline. We operate on the principle that the justice system, with its inherent uncertainties, shouldn’t be a gamble for the client. Our approach isn’t focused on unpredictable court battles. We emphasise negotiation, ensuring clients achieve justice without having to deal with the uncertainty of a court verdict.

We proactively identify issues early, which allows us to help clients reach resolutions, eliminating the need to go through unpredictable court cases.

Looking forward

We believe that solutions like means-tested legal aid or a revised “no win, no fee” model could pave the way to reforming the legal system. Shifting away from models that encourage bad actors and focussing on the client’s needs is essential. Our hope is that we can achieve a more equitable legal system.

The justice system is a risky business…for some: Winners and losers, and the losers pay everything…why?
The concept of justice exists in almost every culture and society. Yet, in today’s complex world, achieving justice has become a game of chance. And the stakes are extremely high, especially for those without the financial means.

Why has seeking justice become this risky?

The legal system used to be based on a simple principle: if you’re wronged, you should be able to seek justice. But, the evolution of the legal structures, particularly the shift from Legal Aid to the “no win, no fee agreement,” has added a layer of complexity.

The “no win, no fee agreement” is a legal model where the winner takes all of the rewards, but the loser suffers potentially devastating financial consequences. It tilted the scales of justice, and the high level of risk made it significantly more challenging for people who didn’t have the financial means.

Understanding the origins

To understand the current scenario, we must first go back into the past. Legal Aid, a government-backed policy, was once a lifeline for those without the means for legal representation. Reducing it created a gap in the justice system.

The government then introduced the “no win, no fee agreement” to incentivise solicitors to help clients fund cases. While this mode seemed promising, it exposed clients to potentially damaging financial situations if they lost their case. This is because they would have to fund their own legal expenses and be prepared (if they lost) to pay all of their opponents’ costs.

The introduction of insurance models, like ATE Insurance, and damage-based agreements further muddied the waters. Solicitors could no longer afford to take on the risk associated with legal cases, and this allowed alternative funders to take control of the market. But their hefty fees made it even harder for the average person to seek justice.

CWD’s solution: Navigating the risk

At CWD, we recognise the inherent risks in the justice system that clients face. It’s why we advocate for negotiation over litigation. The complexities and unpredictabilities of court proceedings make them a risk. Our approach is to minimise that risk, offering clients a path to justice without exposing them to financial challenges.

With an emphasis on early problem identification and resolution, we ensure that our clients never have to face the risks associated with a courtroom.

Looking forward

We believe that solutions like means-tested legal aid or a revised “no win, no fee” model could pave the way to reforming the legal system. Shifting away from models that encourage bad actors and focussing on the client’s needs is essential. Our hope is that we can achieve a more equitable legal system.

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