Legal aid cuts: Excluding migrants from justice

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On 16 December 2010, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) published a briefing paper about the impact of the proposed legal aid cuts in the field of immigration.

The legal aid cuts proposed by the ministry of justice, which remove most immigration cases from the scope of all legal help and advice, will have a devastating effect on migrants’ access to justice, but they will also profoundly affect members of settled BME communities in areas such as family reunion, citizenship advice and deportation.

Removal of immigration from the scope of legal aid will decimate solicitors’ firms specialising in immigration law, and law centres too may be forced to close as a result of these measures since over half their funding comes from legal aid.

IRR Briefing Paper no.7, Excluding migrants from justice: the legal aid cuts, explains how legal service providers in immigration and asylum are already extremely stretched because of earlier changes to the provision of legal aid. But voluntary organisations providing free legal advice in the immigration field are thin on the ground because of the rigorous accreditation requirements needed to offer immigration advice, and they are already overwhelmed by the volume of legal need.

It is important that all those groups involved in providing or signposting legal advice in the immigration field respond to the ministry of justice consultation process, to let the government know their views. The closing date for responses is 14 February 2011.

Download a copy of IRR Briefing Paper no.7, Excluding migrants from justice: the legal aid cuts here (pdf file, 807kb)

Read about the Ministry of Justice consultation: Legal aid: funding reforms

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