The ConDem Government is now attacking what is called `the fourth pillar of the Welfare State' by cutting access to Legal Aid, or the right to access justice.
* Legal Aid in all civil cases will be subject to a discriminatory `residence' test – which will cut off access for many vulnerable people, including homeless families, victims of domestic violence and trafficked children. The Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) group says that "under this proposal groundbreaking cases involving the accountability of the state for the actions of the armed forces abroad could not have been brought".
* Legal aid will no longer be paid for the early stages of judicial review claims, unless the case passes the `permission' stage. YLAL lawyers say that "without the help of Legal Aid, judicial review will simply not be possible for the majority. The ordinary citizen will no longer be able to hold the state to account".
* The ConDem Government is proposing to award contracts for criminal defence work to the cheapest bidders, irrespective of quality. Although this is being looked at again by the Government, YLAL lawyers say that "this will lead to a poor quality, low value service. The proposals will also restrict the ability of individuals to choose their lawyer and damage small and medium-sized local businesses".
* Prisoners will no longer receive Legal Aid for many vitally important issues such as whether they are treated lawfully and humanely in the prison system or where they will live on release and how they will be supported to avoid reoffending. YLAL lawyers say "this will stultify the civil liberties of prisoners and jeopardise the Government's stated commitment to rehabilitating offenders and reducing crime".
* There will be further cuts to the fees paid in criminal, civil, family and immigration cases. YLAL lawyers say "these cuts threaten the quality of legal representation and the sustainability of the profession. The cuts will hit low earning junior lawyers the hardest".
* There will be cut to experts' fees. YLAL lawyers say this "will make it very difficult to bring or defend cases which depend on crucial expert evidence, such as child care proceedings or cases involving vulnerable and mentally ill people".
The Greater Manchester event starts at 5pm outside Manchester Crown Court, or the Civil Justice Centre – which is now also the main court for Salford and is about 100 yards over the Manc border on Bridge Street, near the People's History Museum.
There's a rally followed by a march accompanied by the ace PCS Samba band to Cathedral Gardens, near Urbis* The event finishes at 6pm.
Speakers at the rallies include Chris Hilliard (student activist, acquitted after the 2010 student fees protest), a refugee, Debbie Abrahams (MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth), a speaker from campaign group Access to Advice, Manjeet Kaur and Rhetta Moran (RAPAR), Dennis Queen (DPAC), Geraldine O'Connor (a campaigner on legal aid and disability rights), John Nicholson (immigration and public law barrister) from Kenworthy's Chambers, Mark George QC from Garden Court North (criminal defence barrister), Robert Lizar (criminal defence solicitor) and a message from Michael Mansfield QC.
Defend Legal Aid
March and Rally
Tuesday 30th July 5pm
Manchester Crown Court
Court Square Manchester M3 3FL
* Full route - Walk South and East to Left Bank; North along Left Bank past the People's History Museum; East along Bridge Street; North along Deansgate; East to Cathedral Gardens
For further details see also www.savelegalaid.co.uk/justicealliance
Facebook page: http://bit.ly/64yearsLegalAid
UPDATE: 31st July - see report on the march and rally - click here