The Law Society has published research that show the government's cuts to legal aid have been a false economy. The research, conducted by Isos MORI, shows a clear statistical link between getting early legal advice and resolving problems sooner.
On average, one in four people who received early advice resolved their problems within within three to four months, compared to an average of nine months for those who did not receive early advice. Christina Blacklaws, vice president of the Law Society, said
Without early legal advice, relatively minor problems can escalate, creating health, social and financial problems, placing additional pressure and cost on already stretched public services.
When matters do end up in the courts, the complications caused by unrepresented defendants and litigants-in-person can create issues and delays that sees cases drag out for much longer than would otherwise be expected.
In housing law, a lack of early advice for minor disrepair matters can mean issues such as faulty electrics or a leaking roof escalate, potentially creating health, social and financial problems that will tend to cost the state far more in the long run than timely legal advice would have. Similarly, in family law, mediation referrals have plummeted, putting pressure on the courts and - by extension - the public finances.
The Law Society has reiterated its demand for legal aid for early advice to be reinstated for family and housing cases.
The current situation is unsustainable. If early advice was available to those who need it, issues could be resolved before they worsen and become more costly for the indivudal - and the public purse.
Further information - including the Law Society's report - can be viewed here.