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Defence Defence

Restrict legal aid for law firms that issue vexatious claims against the armed forces

Last updated: 08:29am 4 February 2019

…and restrict legal aid for unscrupulous law firms that issue vexatious legal claims against the armed forces.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.41

Our verdict

In 2016, the previous government announced its intention to prevent the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) leading to what it called “false charges against our troops on an industrial scale”. The argument made by leading ministers was that an industry of unscrupulous lawyers had sprung up to enrich themselves by pursuing “vexatious claims” against soldiers following conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that the way to prevent this was to derogate from (not conform to) certain articles in the ECHR.

This policy is a continuation of the attempt to put a stop to what the government views as unwarranted claims of misconduct by our armed forces, this time by means of restricting the supply of legal aid to law firms.

Since the 2017 general election, however, we can find no evidence of the required reform of the legal aid process to fulfil this policy pledge. There is a review taking place of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), the outcome of which might result in movement towards honouring this promise.  That review, however, was prompted by concerns around funding cuts for legal aid provision rather than the “vexatious claims” issue which is the focus of this policy.

For now, we’re marking this as ‘not started’. We’ll be monitoring the outcome of the LASPO review and if it turns out to be the start of a process that could result in fulfilment of this pledge, then we’ll move this to ‘in progress’. Follow this policy to stay informed.

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