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When legal rights are not a reality: do individuals know their rights and how can we tell?

By: Catrina Denvir, Nigel J. Balmer, Pascoe Pleasence

This journal article addresses the March 2013 legal aid changes in England and Wales that dramatically reduced the availability of legal advice and representation. Previous studies focusing on public knowledge of rights in this (and other) jurisdictions have illustrated a lack of knowledge amongst the general population and more specifically, a widespread tendency of individuals to assume that the law aligns with their own moral, ethical or social attitudes. However, many of these studies have also suffered from methodological shortcomings. In attempting to address some of these shortcomings this study uses an open-ended format to ask individuals with one or one or more civil or social justice problems to describe their rights/legal position. This tool finds that whilst an open-ended question approach to exploring knowledge of rights yields insight not acquired by other formats, its utility is constrained by difficulty reconciling articulation and actual knowledge of rights. This article discusses the implications of these findings as they relate to the development of future research in the field of family and social welfare law, Public Legal Education (PLE) and access to justice post-March 2013.

 

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Uploaded on: Jan 28, 2014
Last Updated: Dec 04, 2015
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