The Journey To Legal Capability: Challenges for Public Law from Public Legal Education


  • Abiodun Michael Olatokun London South Bank University



Citizens whose rights are infringed by a public authority are often unable to attain a court judgment to challenge those adverse decisions. The trite explanation is the most compelling; judicial review is a prohibitively expensive process. This high cost of litigation combined with the fees charged by public lawyers can make fighting for one’s legal rights inaccessible to those without independent means or publicly funded legal representation. There is no question that this is a complete explanation for many instances of unmet legal need, but this paper seeks to raise another important barrier to access to justice that is seldom discussed in the recent literature.

Legal capability is defined as the knowledge, skills and confidence required to participate in legal systems and to deal with one’s legal issues. It is thought to be improved through programmes of Public Legal Education (PLE). Whilst the author reiterates that legal education is no replacement for state-funded legal advice for the poor, PLE is a crucial tool in helping people to challenge public decision making.

Author Biography

Abiodun Michael Olatokun, London South Bank University

Barrister (Lincoln's Inn), Lecturer in Law (London South Bank University) and Inaugural Member (Solicitor General's Public Legal Education Committee). Former Research Leader in Citizenship and the Rule of Law (Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law).






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