Hello there! My name is Andrew Gray and I’m the owner of Truth Legal Solicitors, here in gorgeous Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The reason I want to record a blog today is because, again, I’m really narked off. I read in the legal press about an hour ago at the Law Society, that the trade union for us lawyers has, again, panned the government because some changes that came in, have pre-proved to be detrimental for people’s ability to access a lawyer.
I came into law to be a lawyer and provide access to justice to people but since, in particular, when a piece of legislation called “LASPO” came in, the compensation levels in personal injury claims have decreased, and insurers’ profit levels have increased. For accessing criminal lawyers and family lawyers, it is very difficult to obtain legal aid anymore and therefore your ability to defend yourself in a criminal matter. If you’ve done nothing wrong and you haven’t got lots of money, legal aid has been curtailed now. What’s the point of living in a civilised country with all these fantastic rules and laws which our politicians are creating, if you can’t access justice?
I’m not going to make great comments about the economy, immigration, Brexit, or anything like that. However, very simply, since the people I represent have found it harder to get a lawyer, and I think that’s an absolutely travesty, I don’t believe that people would vote for something like that – please don’t vote for stuff like that – you need to be able to enforce your legal rights. I also see it in employment law, until recently, if you want to bring an employment claim. For example, you were fired because you were pregnant, or you’re black, or you’re gay, or there’s an unfair dismissal claim, you had to pay the government up to about £1,200 to bring a claim. Thankfully, the Supreme Court kicked that one out because it was illegal and now it’s free to bring employment tribunal claims. This is a good thing but only when the Supreme Court got a hold of it, was this thing dismissed.
So, I implore you, when considering your choices at an election, think of all these matters. Please take into consideration what lawyers are saying, like me, about people’s ability to access justice. On the horizon, the government will be introducing some changes again to personal injury which will mean people who’ve had car accidents, who are innocent, who’ve got claims up to £5,000 in value – which is a pretty significant claim – won’t be able to access lawyers but insurers, of course, will have a range of lawyers and other claims handlers that know what they’re doing and you, the general public, who are bringing hundreds thousands of claims won’t have access to justice again. I’m angry, I’m sorry, I didn’t want it, and I hope that you didn’t want it either.