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Solicitors should lend their clients the money to meet their fees. This is the Law Society of Scotland’s recent proposals to widen access to justice. The problem is not a new one, nor is the proposal.  With the closure of sheriff courts, the change in the privative jurisdiction of the Court of Session, and the cuts to legal aid in the last few years, access to justice is under attack from all fronts.

The law is the balancing force within society. It is the means by which power is balanced between rich and poor, employer and employee, tenant and landlord, and the means by which government and local authorities are kept in check. However, without access to legal advice individuals have no means of accessing the law and therefore no access to justice. It is all very well having the law in your favour but without access to a lawyer, you have a ship without a sailor.

The recent proposals are an attempt by lawyers to address the problem but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Lawyers are already attempting to address the issue by funding cases on a client’s behalf, by obtaining after the event insurance, and by engaging in speculative fee agreements, but this is the prevention of attacks on access to justice rather than an attempt at widening access.  The wider issue is ongoing and is, unfortunately, unlikely to be resolved any time soon. If law is the tool to achieve justice then it must be accessible to everyone.  

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