Easy access to legal support is essential in both a practical and theoretical sense. Theoretically, easy access to legal support is a part of the rule of law, which is a fundamental common law principle of the governance of the UK. Practically, easy access to legal support is essential to ensure both individuals and businesses are treated fairly and justly according to the law and where this is not the case, they are able to get appropriate redress.
Theoretically why is easy access to legal support 24/7 essential?
The rule of law (RoL) is broadly about ensuring, amongst other things, that citizens are treated equally under the law and that they have access to legal support to resolve their disputes. If citizens do not have easy access to legal support, then the RoL cannot be said to be upheld in that society. By legal support being available 24/7 it is made more accessible. For instance, a person cannot get legal advice for an issue because they work all hours of the working day and so do not have time. That person does not have access to legal support to resolve their dispute because they simply do not have the time for it. However, if legal support is available 24/7, then that person can find a resolution because they are no longer constrained by their personal circumstances. In doing this, the RoL is also upheld because there is easier access to justice because a barrier to justice has been removed.
Practically, why is easy access to legal support 24/7 essential?
The Legal Services Board reported in January 2020, following a survey of legal needs in England and Wales, that 6 in 10 adults experienced a legal problem in the last 4 years. Such a figure indicates that it is not just large corporations and high wealth individuals who need legal support, but everyone does, or may need over the course of their lives. It is key to get such a figure down and as such important to have easy access to legal support 24/7. From the same survey, it was also found that respondents who got professional help, were more satisfied and felt they had a fairer outcome than those who did not get professional help. This is another indicator to the fact that easy access to legal support 24/7 is essential so that more people with legal matters are satisfied with the outcome.
Additionally, in a report published in November 2020, the Legal Services Board reported that nearly nine in ten people said, “law is a game in which the skilful and resourceful are more likely to get what they want”. Such rhetoric is dangerous and may lead to a more unfair society as people may not even bother with legal matters if they feel the outcome will be against them. Therefore, by making it easier to access legal support that rhetoric is counteracted.
Overall, easy access to legal support 24/7 is essential to uphold the RoL and achieve a fair and just society. It should also be noted that increasing access to legal support, does not just mean access to lawyers and courts, it means access to funding, advisory bodies, ombudsman services, legal documents and templates at a reasonable cost and everyone having a basic understanding of their legal rights.