Vulnerability and Access to Justice

There has been an increased public interest in issues of access to justice following events such as the Grenfell Tower tragedy and resultant debates around the scope of housing law, access to legal aid, and the rise of litigants in person. Lord Bach’s report on Access to Justice has seen the Labour opposition firmly commit to legislating for access to justice, as indicated at their recent party conference, if they were to move into government. There are also positive developments such as the removal of some restrictions on access to legal aid for victims of domestic abuse, while the Supreme Court case of R (UNISON) v Lord Chancellor held that fees for Employment Tribunals are unlawful because they impede access to justice and defy the rule of law. However, there are many issues left to address, as reflected in the ongoing Ministry of Justice review into the impact of the legal aid cuts emerging from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

This current topic submission seeks to incorporate papers:

  • addressing the impact of policy on accessing justice and, in particular, access to legal advice and assistance (across criminal, civil and family law);
  • and/or assessing the various ways in which vulnerability (of individuals and institutions) manifest in these legal systems, the myriad of ways in which the law responds, or fails to respond, to vulnerability generated through austerity and other contemporary policy measures, and the potential for reform measures to facilitate access to justice.

Submissions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Debt
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Criminal
  • Immigration
  • Welfare benefits and
  • Private family law


Dan Newman (, Jess Mant ( and Roxanna Dehaghani (