A not-for-profit organisation
committed to injured people
A not-for-profit organisation
committed to injured people

Access to justice under threat in Northern Ireland personal injury cases

02 Jul 2024
APIL news

Injured people who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer will be denied justice if legal aid is abolished for personal injury cases in Northern Ireland, campaign group APIL has warned.


The not-for-profit organisation has told the Department of Justice, which is reviewing the Northern Irish civil legal aid system, that retaining access to legal aid in personal injury cases is essential.


“To create a system in which injured people with limited financial means have no access to legal aid support would be socially unjust,” said Oonagh McClure, APIL’s executive committee representative for Northern Ireland.


“Everyone should have access to legal redress if they are seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence. In NI we should never have a legal system which is only accessible by the wealthy. A justice system accessible by everyone is the cornerstone of a fair and just society,” she said.


“It is unacceptable that a person with enough money to fund a claim can bring legal proceedings to ensure that the person who has injured them is held to account, whilst people less well off are left with their injuries, and no hope of compensation. Their injuries are equally devastating and equally deserving. For those with limited financial means the consequences of being unable to work as a result of an injury can be much more significant and can impact upon some of the most vulnerable in society,” she added.


“Data that APIL has obtained shows there is a success rate of 73 per cent in legally aided personal injury cases and the cost of personal injury claims to the legal aid fund amounts to just three per cent of the annual budget for civil legal aid in Northern Ireland. This proves the system in NI works well and efficiently, and should remain,” said Oonagh.


APIL says if legal aid were to be removed in personal injury cases, then a workable alternative funding system must be put in place at the same time.



Notes to editors:

  • Link to APIL response to Review of Civil Legal Aid – call for Evidence (legal practitioners): https://www.apil.org.uk/files/pdf/ConsultationDocuments/4234.pdf
  • Link to Northern Ireland Department of Justice Call for Evidence Foundational Review of Civil Legal Services: https://bit.ly/3Xyu1LV
  • The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is a not-for-profit organisation, formed by claimant lawyers, which has campaigned for the rights of victims of negligence for more than 30 years. APIL’s vision is of a society without needless injury but, when people are injured, a society which offers the justice they need to rebuild their lives. Members include solicitors, barristers, legal executives and academics.
  • Any queries about this press release should be directed to APIL’s press and communications officer Julie Crouch on t: 07808 768623, e: [email protected] or communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 07541 490 988 e: [email protected].
  • Follow @APIL on X: https://X.com/APIL and on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/association-of-personal-injury-lawyers.

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Head of Campaigns and Communications
Lorraine Gwinnutt
0115 943 5400
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Jane Hartwell
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Julie Crouch
0115 943 5408
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Zach Wheelhouse Steel
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