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Employment Law: Employment tribunals will increase with legal aid cuts, warns Citizens Advice

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The Citizens Advice Bureau, an independent national charity that provides free legal, consumer and financial advice, has warned the Government that legal aid cuts will result in more people taking their grievances to employment tribunals.

While the Government aims to save taxpayers' money by resolving disputes before they come to court, the CAB predicts legal aid cuts will have the opposite effect since it will no longer be able to provide people with free advice and assistance.

The CAB supports the Government's pledge to protect vulnerable workers from exploitative employers, but claims that it is "meaningless" to promise this while simultaneously removing access to legal aid.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "We strongly back the Government's commitment to ensure that rogue employers determined to operate outside the law are not allowed to unfairly undercut business rivals by exploiting their workers. We agree absolutely that the most vulnerable workers - those most likely to be exploited by unscrupulous bosses - must be effectively protected.

"But abolishing legal aid for employment cases is no way to achieve these very laudable aims. If the legal aid cuts go ahead, Citizens Advice Bureaux will no longer be able to offer the specialist legal advice and casework that helps resolve more than 3,000 employment problems every year, most involving vulnerable workers in low paid, low skilled work, who have nowhere else to turn for help.

"The Government still has time to rethink these plans and prevent legal aid cuts undermining its efforts to promote growth through a strong and efficient labour market, and to create a level playing field that is fair to workers and decent employers alike."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: "The wide ranging availability of legal aid encourages a litigious society in which far too many cases go down the court route unnecessarily. It can lead people to assume legal action is their only option, even where early practical advice could be of more help to them and avoid them needing a lawyer at all."

What do you think about the legal aid cuts? Have you ever benefited from legal aid? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Related links:
Read more on the story (Citizens Advice Bureau)
Employment tribunals (FindLaw)
Find local employment solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)

1 Comment

I recently experienced a case where a Legal Aid Solicitor firm FAILED to confront Jobcentre Plus with ALL the ailments their vulnerable client was suffering, as part of their legal represenations, and then proceeded by telling their vulnerable client that they now have to wait for between 10 - 12 months to sit before an Independent Tribunal Court in order for their case to be heard. I was appalled by this behaviour by the firm!

The client was vulnerable, suffering a overdose that same year, suicidal thoughts as well as mental health challenges and homelessness too. The firm was FULLY aware of the clients vulnerabilities. Can you therefore imagine the mindset of the client, once he was awarded a 1-bedroom flat based on these same vulnerbailities, then soon found that his Welfare Benefit had been erroneously stopped!

This same client was FORCED to fight for himself, but it was an obvious Distressful fight for him to get this original wrongful benefit decision overturned - especially as the Solicitor firm FAILED to provide any further help!

With the knowledge that the suppression of being forced to wait for up to 12 months to sit before an Independent Tribunal, following the the Solicitors initial failings to represent him under the terms of the contract and to Uphold the Solicitors 'Code of Conduct' by not being reliant on a third-party interest... etc, the client was frightened of going deeper into depression and the threat this will have on his life. So, he wrote a letter to the CEO of Jobcentre Plus - turning out 5-pages of in-depth information that was detailed in expressing the failings that had been responsible for his downfall and this new failing by JCP that hindered his prospects of strengthening once again.

After many months of further failings, including a lack of thorough understanding of the case by those in senior positions at Job centre Plus, in December 2011 he eventually had a phone call from the Office of the Director, JCP, to offer the deepest of apologies for 'getting it so badly wrong.' The case was investigated by JCP and it was acknowledged that important DATA was overlooked by them thus causing the wrongful stoppage of my benefit.

The Legal Aid Solicitor was challenged by this vulnerable client who had already been through so much, and who sought redress for the failings of the firm. However, the firm, who prides themselves of providing a supportive and understanding service to mental health clients, stood firm and arrogant when the client made a formal complaint. The firm said 'they had done nothing wrong!'

This same firm put this vulnerable client through an extra 6-months of distress as the the case was taken to the Legal Ombudsman - to be UPHELD at the preliminary stages. The vulnerable client was offered an insulting £500 by the firm and an apology letter. The vulnerable client declined the insulting offer - as he felt that the firm took him through another nightmare of experiences - causing him great distress and hindering his prospects of getting back on his feet much earlier.

The firm has remained arrogant and dismissive - even though it's clear that their actions and representation of this vulnerable client was appalling and weak, and in BREACH of the 'Code of Conduct' they are signed-up to.

This vulnerable person is still seeking employment, as the overwhelming additional distress of having to FIGHT again and again since being awarded a permanent flat based on hsi vulnerabilities, have also been distressing for him and have caused him to 'burn out' as he sought QUALITY employment support in order to gain employment once again.

The vulnerable person wonders, where is his Redress to Justice and Fairness in all of these Failings? Where is the financial redress whereby he can now place carpets on the floor of his flat in order to make it feel like home, as well as reduce the mental health distress he has?

He is seeking MEDIA attention this APPALLING story. He will certanly try to gain this attention, as he is sure that many others like him cannot fight as he was able to do. They therefore suffer the additional suppression of waiting for 8, 10, 12... months to sit before an Independent Tribunal Court to have their case heard. What does this do to these individuals? Does this not underline the failings of the 'system' that is responsible for making people even more vulnerable and thus reliant on the welfare state?