Following the Grenfell Tower fire, I raised the issue of legal aid availability in Parliament with the Government’s Solicitor General. The Government has announced that it will appoint a Public Independent Advocate to support the victims and families of deceased victims after disasters. We don’t yet know whether the Advocate will simply be a referral point for advice, or whether the Advocate will legally represent victims and victims’ families and that this representation will be provided through legal aid. I also wanted to know whether the many people who live in high rise buildings that don’t comply with building regulations and fire safety regulations and who want to bring legal action against landlords, would be granted legal aid to do so.
“Thank you Mr Speaker, can the Solicitor General confirm that if families that live in highrise,
for example but obviously have thankfully not suffered the same disaster that Grenfell has,
wish to bring any legal action on health and safety grounds that they will be entitled to legal aid?”
You can find the Solicitor General’s reply in the video below;
Amnesty International found that in the first year after the introduction of the legal aid cuts that the number of cases where assistance had been granted had fallen 46%. This has led to a surge of cases where applicants are representing themselves, or going into debt to afford legal representation. As it stands Legal Aid can only be applied for in cases where a landlord has allowed a rented property to fall into a state of “disrepair”, so it would not have covered a decision to install unsafe material or not provide sprinkler systems for example.