When we started this Firm in 1992, over 95% of the claims we handled had the benefit of Legal Aid. The remaining 5% were private paying clients. Back then there weren’t any ‘no win no fee’ agreements (CFA’s) – they didn’t come in until 1998.
Slowly and over time, successive Governments have reduced the eligibility for legal aid so that now only children injured at birth (or very shortly after) are entitled to apply for it. Everybody else is left either paying the legal fees themselves or much more commonly getting their solicitor to act on a CFA.
From 95% in 1992 we are now down to about 1%. Most cases nowadays are funded by CFA’s. This is a national trend as well. Figures published by the Government show that in 2019 only 118 cases out of about 11,000 of the claims lodged had legal aid. This is just under 1%. The rest were mainly on CFA’s
Legal Aid did work, it enabled access to justice for those that could not afford it. However, with the advent of CFA’s and the lack of political will to properly fund legal aid, its decline was inevitable. This trend is not going to reverse.
Hilton Armstrong – June 2021