0London, 14 July 2016: A survey released today by Legal Cost Finance reveals that over 90% of UK lawyers are forced to put the brakes on cases at least fortnightly because of clients lacking in funds to cover their legal costs. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 30% of consumers needing legal support are not even making the first step in appointing a lawyer in fear of what the costs might be and how they will be settled.
In fact, Transform Justice, the national charity working for a fair, humane, open and effective justice system, has just released a similar report, highlighting the miscarriages of justice which result from clients’ lacking in adequate funds to pay for legal support.
The Transform Justice report, entitled ‘Justice denied? The experience of unrepresented defendants in the criminal courts’, warns that ‘…justice is in danger of being denied to some…who do not qualify for legal aid’. It claims that 25% of defendants going to court are now unrepresented, and that a person who is unrepresented stands a 15% chance of getting a longer sentence or a worse outcome than if he was represented.
Whilst much needs to be done at various levels to overcome the barrier a lack of funds can have on a client’s access to justice, Legal Cost Finance is one company making a step in the right direction through its innovative ‘payment plan’ scheme, which is available to both UK consumers and businesses.
By offering clients affordable ‘cost-neutral’ ‘payment plans’ to cover their legal costs, the London-based company initiative couldn’t be timed any better as cuts in Legal Aid and rising court costs continue to hit the legal industry hard.
Dr Rapoport, founder of Legal Cost Finance, comments:
“The legal industry should be no different from any other sector in terms of how people or businesses can cover their legal fees. In fact, what is more important than being able to afford access to justice? You wouldn’t be asked to pay for a house up front and car sales would dip significantly if you had to pay for the vehicle in full before you were handed the keys. So why should legal costs be any different?
“Legal Cost Finance is pioneering the way people foot their legal bills with what we call ‘cost-neutral payment plans’. Affordable instalments are spread over a period of time that is manageable for the client. We negotiate a small discount in lawyers’ fees to cover the small cost of credit, effectively meaning the loan is interest free.
“Our intention is to help, not exploit, and many individuals and businesses have already reaped the benefits by being able to cover their legal costs. Ultimately, this means they have access to justice through getting the right advice and appropriate representation.”
‘Payment plans’ from Legal Cost Finance are open to all, regardless of background, finances or situation. While payment plans are often an option to those with limited funding options elsewhere, they are equally beneficial to those who prefer to spread their legal costs over a period of time for their own budgeting purposes.
Dr Rapoport concludes:
“We echo the words of The Law Society president, Jonathan Smithers: ‘Cuts to funding and changes in eligibility have left vulnerable people without representation and the supply of legal services unstable and unsustainable…there are hard questions to be asked about what price society should be prepared to pay for justice and the very real consequences of not doing so.’
“We will work hard to raise awareness of Legal Cost Finance among those considering or in the midst of a legal matter, so that access to justice can become a reality to all.”