Right time, right place

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Aveek Bhattacharya

May 25, 2022

This report from UK think the Social Market Foundation looks at improving access to civil justice.

This report from Social Market Foundation think tank examines how policymakers can create a better functioning and more equitable civil justice system. Although issues of civil justice like debt, family breakdown, and employment disputes are highly common, access to government-funded legal support in England and Wales has dramatically declined. Additionally, people tend not to recognise them as legal issues, choosing instead to use ‘self-help’ rather than professional help. Dealing with these issues without the proper support can have dire consequences: 53% of people experience stress, and in extreme cases people may lose their jobs or turn to drugs or alcohol. To make the system more accessible and equitable, our Chief Economist, Aveek Bhattacharya recommends that cuts to legal aid be reversed, and legal advice clinics should be co-located with GP surgeries, to reach people where they go when they are in crisis. Government should also collect better and more timely data, for example through a biannual Civil Justice Survey for England and Wales.