(Neo) liberalism and legal aid: an analysis of the effect of ideology at institutional level

Welsh, Lucy (2015) (Neo) liberalism and legal aid: an analysis of the effect of ideology at institutional level. In: Socio-Legal Studies Annual Conference 2015, 31st March - 2nd April 2015, University of Warwick.

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This paper reflects on the ways in which governments have approached the issue of publicly funded representation in criminal proceedings. Although I consider policy making in relation to the provision of legally aided representation in criminal proceedings generally, I focus on magistrates’ courts - that being the place in which all cases begin and therefore the first place in which legal aid is properly considered. I reflect upon the development of legal aid from its beginnings at a time of liberal government through the era of welfarism and into the rise of neoliberal government from the late 1970s onwards. I do not suggest that there is a clear trajectory during those phases of government from more to less availability of legally aided representation, as a basic understanding of neoliberalism and its early preference for roll back of state funded services might suggest. The process is more complex and subject to political nuance than such an understanding of neoliberalism might allow. I analyse the provision of state funded criminal court defence services to demonstrate that neoliberalism is not a monolithic political framework and instead demonstrate that micro-analysis of political policy can challenge the hegemony of political philosophy. I argue that such complexity has resulted in a fragmented system, in which providers are disillusioned and defendants are (further) marginalised. This partly occurs because governments have, in response to immediate political need, altered their approaches to publicly funded representation - at times viewing lawyers as obstructive and self-serving and at times seeking their assistance to ensure both the efficiency and appearance of legitimacy in the process of state-led prosecution. We are left with an extremely fragile system which continues to undergo rapid change in light of the most recent government's desire to increase efficiency and cut cost in public services.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Depositing User: Lucy Welsh
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2017 09:12
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2017 09:12
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66912

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