The buzzword of the last decade has been 'austerity'. As politicians reminded people endlessly that they had to cut back on spending on legal aid and early advice services because the country could not afford such costs, advice workers and social justice lawyers warned that the country could not afford to cut back on such essential services; they warned that cutting back would be false economy.
Studies have shown that to be the case with charities struggling under the weight of the crisis and families that could have kept their homes if early intervention had been possible were forced to move into expensive emergency accommodation instead.
It has happened at the same time as litigants have to travel further to get to courts as local courts have been shut and legal aid hourly rates have been reduced whilst overheads increase. There have been several firms and law centres with longstanding commitment to legal aid work that have either closed down or given up their legal aid contracts. The housing lawyers that remain have been forced to deal with increasingly urgent and complex cases, with families and vulnerable clients in crisis. Providing excellent client care to a client base in crisis is incredibly challenging, especially in the light of the financial pressures that exist in the sector. A special panel session will discuss these challenges and share best practice.
The Grenfell Tower Fire in 2017 has also been linked to cost cutting measures and, subject to the publication of the Inquiry’s Phase 1 report, there will be a special session on the report and its conclusions and recommendations. There will also be a selection of informative seminars, dealing with key topics like defending possession claims, disrepair and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, defences and counterclaims for discrimination in a housing law context, costs and homelessness law.
Speakers will include HHJ Saunders, Sue James, Edward Fitzpatrick, Sophie Bell, Ben Chataway, Catherine O’Donnell, Giles Peaker, John Gallagher and Liz Davies. The closing address will be given by HHJ Jan Luba QC.
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT OF 10% OF THE FEES IS OFFERED FOR HLPA MEMBERS WHO REGISTER BY 18:00 ON 15 OCTOBER