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The Independent Online
Advice agencies could boycott the Lord Chancellor's White Paper on legal aid reform, in protest at having to charge or means-test their clients, the Government was warned yesterday. The prediction, from Steve Johnson, director of the Federation of Independent Advice Centres came as it joined with nine other legal and charitable organisations to issue a joint statement opposing the plans.

The organisations - the Law Society, the Advice Services Alliance, the Law Centres Federation, the Federation of Independent Advice Centres, Liberty, Justice, the Child Poverty Action Group, Shelter, the Public Law Project and the Legal Action Group - said the plans would do nothing to improve individuals' access to justice but would deter many ordinary people from pursuing or defending their legal rights. The capping of aid spending for the first time and the introduction of heavier liabilities to pay contributions and opponents' costs are at the heart of the changes set out by Lord Mackay of Clashfern.