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Legal Aid and Its Implications on Poor People


While some lawyers believe the new Legal Aid Scheme is the first step towards a National Legal Service, others agree with some laypeople who believe it is merely a cunning window-dressing attempt by the legal community to distract the public’s attention from the abuses in our current legal system and thwart any nationalization suggestions. The second group of thinkers applaud the Machiavellian planning of those bodies and contrast it with the less cunning actions of the B.M.A., whereas the first group of thinkers shakes their heads at the Law Society and Bar Council’s naivety. However, as the majority of lawyers are aware, it is neither of these, but rather a neither and more workable answer to a long-standing problem.

Due to the decline in the value of money, which rendered the current financial restrictions of the Poor Person’s Procedure completely insufficient as well as the more satisfactory arrangements for legal advice for the forces during the late war, the need for similar arrangements for civilians has become apparent. The professional bodies just acknowledged the requirement and made an effort to make the best of it; they weren’t particularly cunning or gullible in doing so. Nobody can credibly accuse them of trying to put sectional interests ahead of the general public, and the profession can be proud of its contribution to an important piece of social and legal reform. They have won the profession’s gratitude for the careful attention they paid to the interests of the profession during the deliberations that resulted in the act’s final shape. Sadly, it seems as though the Act will be hurt by the recession and that the majority of its provisions will be delayed.


When discussing the accessibility of legal aid, it is important to make the distinction between the provision of legal help as a matter of social and legal policy and any legal entitlements people may have to state-funded legal representation. In England, legal assistance has a strong tradition of advancing access to justice and equality of arms. According to Zuckerman, the only way to guarantee that the poor have access to fundamental legal services is to make sure that their ability to hire counsel is not compared to that of their more affluent competitors. Thanks to the Labour Government’s enormous growth of the public service beginning in 1949, legal assistance was made available to everyone who qualified financially and had a case that had merit.

The Legal Aid Board covered the client’s legal costs in the same way as the client would have done so on their own. However, as the demand for legal services and subsequently for legal aid increased, succeeding governments were forced to make a difficult decision: they could either continue paying legal aid expenses without restriction or they could scale back the amount of legal help they provided to the poor. The amount spent on legal aid, which totals £1.6 billion for the current fiscal year, is now significantly larger than the amount spent on the courts itself, as highlighted by Zuckerman in 1999. The majority of this vast sum is made up of payments given directly to the legal sector. Such spending levels are unsustainable.


In India, the right to legal aid is theoretically afforded more protection, but in reality, there are fewer resources made available for civil proceedings. The Indian Constitution is a shining example for lawyers who argue that the rule of law cannot exist without access to legal representation and that the state must provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. To ensure that no citizen is denied the opportunity to obtain justice due to financial or other limitations, the State must ensure that the functioning of the legal system operates on an equal opportunity basis and, in particular, must provide free legal aid through appropriate legislation or a program or in any other way


The one topic on which there is almost universal agreement is the necessity for structural reform given the limited public resources available for civil justice in both wealthy and developing countries. Despite their passionate opposition to the cuts to legal aid funds, many English lawyers reluctantly concede that neither the current administration nor future ones are likely to restore them. Without structural reform, the majority of people would either no longer have access to justice or will find it more and more challenging to do so. Those who are brave, desperate, or dumb enough to litigate their claims have slim chances of having their cases decided on the merits following a thorough and impartial hearing.

Furthermore, their claims and defenses will cost more to hear than they would if legal aid were inexpensive. Then, what can be done? Although the reform options go beyond the purview of this essay, it is worthwhile to outline some of them, particularly those that might be viewed as extreme or divisive. Because of the persistent problem of limited access to justice, there is little to be gained from limiting possibilities. Additionally, it must be kept in mind that the courts must provide correct judgments—decisions in which we can have a fair amount of confidence—quickly and economically to give access to justice.

For ages, both England and India have decried the twin faults of excessive delay and expense. With varying degrees of success, several reform initiatives have been made to address one or both of these issues. Today’s challenge for legislators, attorneys, and judges is to produce accurate, fast, and inexpensive results with less taxpayer money. It’s important to use original thought. But since many nations lack enough public funding for their civil justice systems, many lawyers have given considerable thought to how to best support the underprivileged and disenfranchised in upholding their legal rights at the least expensive cost. A list of possible changes is provided below, some of which have already been tested and have had some degree of success.


This paper looked at the right to legal assistance and how it helps pay for the civil court system. States may contend that the civil court system needs greater funding, although this is debatable. It is questionable to mandate that the judicial system take priority over other public services when distributing public expenditures. In any case, a costly and ineffective system that is out of reach for both average litigants and taxpayers is justified by the significance of access to justice for individuals making valid claims or defenses. No. Both in rich and emerging nations, structural reforms are required to set civil justice systems on a sound foundation and guarantee that everyone has access to the courts. 

This article has been written by Kashish Agarwala , from National Law University, Delhi.


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