Letter: Enriching lawyers

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The Independent Online
Enriching lawyers

A M Robinson (letter, 6 February) fails to acknowledge the realities of civil legal aid as they occur in litigation.

The Legal Aid Board relies on the advice of the applicant's lawyer in deciding whether to fund a claim. Such advice is not independent, since the lawyer is paid for advancing the claim, regardless of its merits. The success rate is 17 per cent. So in 83 per cent of cases, the only beneficiaries are lawyers and experts.

The often blameless health service is unable to recover its legal costs, promoting what has been described in Parliament as legal aid "blackmail", whereby cases are settled for commercial considerations.

Legal aid does not secure access to justice or ensure compensation for deserving cases. Instead, it impoverishes the health service and enriches lawyers. It is hardly surprising that the main supporters of legal aid are lawyers.

ANTHONY BARTON

London N1

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