We have all heard about the cuts to numerous public services and the legal profession has been hit through cuts to legal aid. Sadly this has a real impact on people who need access to legal support. Some law firms have increased their allocation of corporate social responsibility (yawn) but this is not going to fill the gap.
Legal advice is expensive. Good legal advice is more expensive. We recently met Hackney Community Law Centre, who are an amazing Law Firm, acting as a charity, that provide independent and free legal advice and representation to people living, working or studying in the London Borough of Hackney and neighbouring boroughs.
But is People Power the answer?
Crowd Funding takes many forms; KickStarter helps products engage with new customers, Crowd Cube and Crowd Funder help businesses raise money. Some law startups have even used these platforms to raise money, more should.
Crowd Justice is different to the more traditional form of legal aid in that it does not provide a lawyer for the claimants, having a lawyer is one of the criteria people seeking to have their claim supported must meet. Cases already funded through the platform include one brought by residents of Hounslow against their local council for allowing the building of a new multi-story property bordering the Turnham Green conservation area, and a Supreme Court case against the concept of joint enterprise – an old legal concept that, it is argued, is causing miscarriages of justice by casting blame on people who are only slightly related to violent crimes.
So how does it work?
Similar to other crowd funding platforms, users can browse through cases and read about the individuals who need financial support so that their cases – often involving huge injustices – can be properly heard. CrowdJustice is dedicated to the law and contributors can follow a case from donation to day in court. It is slightly different process to other crowdfunding websites in that you can’t just click and create a profile for your cause – you need to apply, and your case needs to meet certain requirements. The scrutiny a case faces before making it’s way onto the website means that the cases on the website are legitimate ones that you feel comfortable donating to.
There are currently six cases open for funding on the CrowdJustice website, and applying is a simple process if you have a case. Head over to CrowdJustice.co.uk to find out more. We think that this platform can continue to change and improve the delivery of legal services in UK (and maybe around the world).
Credit: Mitchell Sowden