Improving Access To Justice Through Legal Aid: Exploring The Possibilities Of ‘Exceptional Case Funding’ Clinics In University Law Schools


  • Emma Marshall Exeter University



This article focuses on the role of universities in establishing law clinics to assist individuals to make Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) applications. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) removed many categories of civil matters from the scope of legal aid, reducing the number of people entitled to state-funded legal advice and assistance. To replace provision for the categories removed from scope, LASPO introduced ECF to provide a ‘safety net’ for cases where human rights would be breached if legal assistance was not available. To obtain legal aid through the ECF scheme, legal aid providers or individuals must apply to the Legal Aid Agency, the department of government within the Ministry of Justice that deals with the administration of legal aid. The article considers how analysis of ECF clinics can contribute to knowledge about the work of universities in facilitating access to justice through clinical legal education, particularly in the context of cuts to legal aid expenditure. It argues that ECF clinics present an opportunity to involve students while engaging — rather than replacing — the responsibility of the British state to provide legal aid.

Author Biography

Emma Marshall, Exeter University

Emma Marshall is a Postdoctoral Policy Consultant and Research Fellow, Public Law Project at the University of Exeter






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