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Children's Legal Centre criticises think-tank's call to scrap legal aid

Date:27 AUG 2010

girlThe Children's Legal Centre has criticised the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) for calling for civil legal aid to be scrapped.

In the ASI's report Access to Justice, lawyer and medical practitioner Anthony Barton claims legal aid does not ensure access to justice and is unfair. The report suggests scrapping civil legal aid "in almost all cases", and reforming the Conditional Fee Agreement system.

However the legal centre says this is misguided as civil legal aid covers the cost of vital children's legal services, not just the so-called ‘compensation culture'

Kirsten Anderson, Head of Research, Policy and Communications at the Children's Legal Centre, said: "Children need free, high quality legal representation to pursue claims for compensation where they have suffered harm or a violation of their rights. Legal aid is the best and fairest way to ensure that all children have access to justice.

"It is right that the children we represent should not have to risk huge financial consequences when challenging injustices. While the entire legal profession is in agreement that the legal aid system needs reviewing, it would be wrong to take away access to justice for the country's young people.," Ms Anderson added.

The Children's Legal Centre, which has its headquarters at the University of Essex, advises and offer representation to vulnerable children and their carers.