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July 2013


Legal Action

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Seeking justice in Ashton

July, 2013 by LAG

Sitting in pride of place at the centre of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council offices in Ashton-under-Lyne (Ashton) is a large statue of Sir Ralph of Ashton. In medieval times, Sir Ralph was the lord of the manor. Such was his reputation for injustice and evil that his death was celebrated in Ashton each Easter Monday, a tradition which lasted for centuries and was revived recently. The location of his statue seems incongruous, as it gazes across a ground-floor reception area that accommodates council and other advice services. These services occupy the frontline in the fight to right modern injustices, and are desperately needed as people in Tameside face challenges relating to long-term deprivation and new government legislation.


A backbench debate on legal aid reform in June gave legal aid lawyers an opportunity to lobby MPs about the government’s proposals in the consultation paper Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system. The debate was initiated by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather.

In June, the Justice Select Committee began holding evidence sessions on the proposals for the reform of criminal and civil legal aid set out in the government’s consultation paper Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system.


This year's ceremony was a chance to celebrate not just the ten Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) award winners, but also the granting of an OBE to Carol Storer, director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG), which has organised the LALYs on a not for profit basis for the past 11 years. Fiona Bawdon, a freelance journalist and LALY co-organiser, describes the night.


Pressure points in the justice system - Part 3

July, 2013 by Ellie Palmer and Laura Wrixon

In the last of four articles on access to justice in an age of austerity, Ellie Palmer and Laura Wrixon, of the Law School at the University of Essex, focus on barriers to justice in the areas of employment and mental health and the implications of government cost-cutting measures for vulnerable clients with multi-dimensional problems that might need to be addressed in different dispute resolution forums. The article reviews the findings of the fifth in a series of Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) seminars, in which practitioners and academics assessed pressures on the system and discussed possible solutions.

Law and practice

Housing benefit law update 2013

July, 2013 by Bethan Harris and Desmond Rutledge

This annual series by Bethan Harris and Desmond Rutledge is designed to keep readers up to date with legislation, case-law and other recent developments in housing benefit (HB) law.

Law and practice

Help for council tax payers - Part 1: appeals about reductions

July, 2013 by Jan Luba QC and Catherine O'Donnell

This is the first of two articles focusing on the help advisers can give to residents who are struggling to pay their council tax bill because of their low income. The second article, which will be published in September 2013, will deal with the help that can be given to defaulters who face enforcement action as a result of non-payment or late payment.