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Legal Aid: a human right or mere luxury?

Speakers: Professor Emeritus Carol Harlow, Roger Smith and Sir Geoffrey Bindman (chair)
Wednesday 24 January 2007


Is there more to legal aid than whingeing lawyers who say they don't get paid enough? This is often the picture that is painted by those, both within and outside government, who want to cut back on state provision for those accused of crime and also for the many others who need state aid if they are to be able to claim the rights the law say are their due. But is there more to legal aid than simply a matter of justice? Is there a human right to legal aid? What are the implications of such a right for public access to justice, both in Britain and throughout Europe? Does the EU have a role in fostering this human right to the means to secure justice? But can even Britain (much less poorer EU countries) afford a proper commitment to civil as well as criminal legal aid?

Carol Harlow is emeritus professor of law at the LSE. She is Queens Counsel; Fellow and Council Member of the British Academy; Fellow of the London School of Economics; and Emeritus Member of Society of Legal Scholars. She was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship in 2002.

Roger Smith is Director of JUSTICE, the all-party law reform and human rights organisation, which celebrates its 50th year in 2007.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman is the founding member of Bindman & Partners and Visiting Professor of Law at University College London.