This book is concerned with the legal problems encountered by people whose lives are disadvantaged: disabled people, carers, homeless people, people on low incomes, people falling foul of immigration law … it is a long list. People in this position often experience multiple and synchronous legal problems (‘clustered problems’) for which the traditional ‘single issue’ lawyering approach is ill equipped.
Such people – to cite Stephen Wexler – ‘do not lead settled lives into which the law seldom intrudes; they are constantly involved with the law in its most intrusive forms’. Their legal challenges don’t come in single discrete packages (eg a personal injury claim, a house purchase, a divorce) but are multiple, interlinked and successional. No sooner has one problem been addressed than another is encountered.
This book explores the causes and the effects of clustered injustice, describing the harm that results and why core responsibility for this harm rest squarely with the state. The analysis draws on ‘systems thinking’ and ‘vulnerability’ theories, as well using gaming analogies to illustrate the invidious position of people who experience clustered injustice: people compelled to play legal and administrative games in which the odds are heavily stacked against them.
••Introduction – the meaning of clustered injustice
••The grain of the law – the ‘loaded’ nature of the law and its bias towards those who enjoy ‘advantage’
••What’s your problem? – the legal system’s inability to deal with entangled clusters of problems – except by fragmenting them into their disconnected elements
••Juridification – the proliferation of laws and the problems that result: mental capacity and identity laws as examples
••Parcelling-out of the soul – public sector bureaucracies and the damage caused by ‘command and control’ systems
••Harm – the physical and mental harm caused to those experiencing clustered injustice
••Doing justice – how a responsive state would and should address the phenomenon of clustered injustice
••Appendix – brief overviews of various groups who experience clustered injustice
About the author
Luke Clements is the Cerebra Professor of Law & Social Justice at Leeds University and a solicitor. His research interests concern the role of the law in both exacerbating and combating the social exclusion experienced by (in particular) disabled people and their carers and also the barriers disabled children and their families experience in accessing their social, healthcare and educational entitlements.
Luke helped draft and promote a number of parliamentary bills aimed at improving the rights of people experiencing social exclusion and was the special adviser to the Parliamentary Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill that resulted in the Care Act 2014. Luke has written widely; his books (jointly written) include: Community Care and the Law (Legal Action Group, 2019), Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook (Legal Action Group, 2020) and Carers and their Rights (Carers UK, 2016).