THE POLITICAL PARTIES AND LEGAL AID

AuthorE. J. Cohn
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1945.tb02704.x
Publication Date01 Jul 1945
THE
MODERN
LAW
REVIEW
Vol.
Vlll
JULY,
1945
No.
3
THE
POLITICAL PARTIES AND
LEGAL AID
HERE can be little doubt that the debate on the reform
of
the
law
of
legal aid
to
the poor
has
made substantial progress
T
since the Report of the Reconstruction Sub-Committee of the
Haldane Society‘ set the ball rolling. The interest of the legal world in
this debate has been very considerable,
as
is
witnessed by the number
of articles in both learned and popular periodicals, including
a
very
lively correspondence in “The Times.”z
A
Committee under the
chairmanship
of
Lord Rushcliffe has been appointed to consider the
problem and devise means for an improvement of the existing
1
Haldane Society, “The Law and Reconstruction,” being the First Report
of the Legal Reconstruction Sub-committee of the Haldane Society, containing
recommendations as to
Law
Reform, capable
of
being
carried into effect during
the War
(1942)
pp.
z
ff.
2
The following
is
a short list of publications in English Legal periodicals.
published since
1941
:
Hassard-Shortt, “Legal Aid for the Poor,”
in
23
Journal
of
Comparative Legislafion
(1941)
pp.
27
ff; Keeton, “The Problem of Law
Reform after the War,” in
58
Law Quarterly Review
(1942).
pp.
147
ff.
;
Bradway,
“Legal Aid Work in the U.S.A.,” in
24
Journal
of
Comfiarative Legislation
(1942).
pp.
39
ff.
;
E.
J.
Cohn, “Legal Aid for the Poor;
a
study in Comparative Law
and Legal Reform,” in
59
Law Quarterly Review
(1943),
pp.
250
ff.,
and
359
ff.
;
E.
J.
Cohn, “Legal Aid for the
Poor,”
in
The ForfnigMly
(1944).
No.
929,
N.S.,
pp.
315
ff.; Schmitthoff and Terry, “Legal Aid and Social
Security,”
in
7
MOD.
L.
REV.
(1944).
pp.
138
ff.
;
Hayman, “Legal Aid for the Poor
in
South Africa,”
in
26
Journal
of
Cornparafive Legislafion
(1944).
pp.
12
ff.;
E.
J.
Cohn, “Two
Systems of Legal Aid to Poor Persons,” in
60
Law Quarterly Review
(1944).
pp.
24
ff.;
Egerton, “Historical Aspects of Legal Aid,” in
60
Law Quarterly
Review
(1944).
pp.
24
ff.
;
Anonymous, “Reforms in the Administration of
Jus-
tice,” in
89
Solicitors’ Journal
(1945).
p.
124.
See also Loewensohn,
The
Poor
Man’s Right to Legal Aid,” in
The
Scotfish
Law Review,
and Sheriff
Court
Reports, April,
1945.
It
would be difficult to find another subject which
has
attracted
a
similar amount
of
attention in late years.
98
MODERN
LAW
REVIEW
July,
I945
machinery. Now even the po:itical parties, whose interest in the
matter was somewhat sceptically assessed by
at
least one writer?
have begun to take due notice of the problem and to consider schemes
for its solution.
This is in effect a major success. When, around
1925,
there was a
similar movement for the reform of this much-neglected part of the
law, the political parties remained passive. Mr. Gurney-Champion’s
book
on
Justice
and
the
Poor
in
England4
contains an appendix which
consists
of
a reprint of various questions and answers in the House of
Commons. But these questions, and more
so
the fact that many of
them received only a very curt reply, show that there was
no
clear
vision
of
what would have to be done and little determination to do
anything at
all.
No
wonder that the reform that ensued achieved very
little and that such improvements as did ensue were due more to the
efficient administration of the law by the London Law Society than
to the comparatively minor changes that the then Lord Chancellor’s
Committee recommended. This time, however, the two great parties
have realised that legal aid to the poor is a problem of major importance
for large sections of the community.
The Conservative Party appointed
a
Sub-committee
on
Reforms in
the Administration of Justice under the chairmanship
of
Mr.
C.
R.
Havers, K.C., to consider
inter
alia
the following two questions
:
I.
Is
there any method by which the expense of litigation can
be tempered to the litigant whose income is above the Poor
Persons’ level?
2.
Whether there has been any complaint as to the expense of
legal advice and procedure in non-litigious matters, and if
so
whether there are grounds for such complaint?
The Report of the Committee has been published as one of the
series of Conservative Post-war Problems Report.6
It
is a document
of soine length-comparable
to
a Departmental Committee Report.
The Labour Party gave evidence before the Rushcliffe Committee and
for this purpose a memorandum was prepared by a number
of
lawyers
under the chairmanship of Mr.
J.
P. Eddy, K.C. This memorandum
is reprinted in the Supplementary Report and Special Final Agenda
for the 43rd Annual Conference.6
It
is much shorter than the Conserva-
tive Report and evidently relies largely upon the preparatory work of
the Haldane Society for support of the theses which it has adopted.
At the time when these lines are being written the Report of the
Lord Chancellor’s Committee has not yet been published.
It
is not
certain whether it will adopt any
of
the suggestions which have been
made by either party. While the conclusions of Lord Rushcliffe and
a
E. J.
Cohn, “Legal Aid for the Poor,” in 59 Law
Quarterly Review,
p.
252.
Gurney-Champion,
Justice
and
the
POOY
in
England (1926),
pp.
231
ff.
“Looking Ahead”-Administratioit
of
Justice. Being
a
Report
of
the
Conservative Sub-committee
on
Reforms in the Administration of Justice
(19.45).
-Questions
I
and
2
deal with problems of legal aid. This Report is in the follow-
ing notes referred to as C.
6
Pp.
18
ff.
This Report
is
in the following notes referred
to
as
L.

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