When Legal Rights Are Not a Reality: Do Individuals Know Their Rights and How Can We Tell?

Posted: 23 Jun 2015

See all articles by Catrina Denvir

Catrina Denvir

University College London

Nigel Balmer

Victoria Law Foundation; University College London

Pascoe Pleasence

University College London

Date Written: April 19, 2013

Abstract

Public knowledge of rights has been the subject of a number of empirical enquiries over the last decade. In England and Wales, knowledge of rights and its relationship with an individual’s capacity to ‘self-help’ and ‘self-represent’ when faced with a civil justice problem has become the subject of renewed attention following changes to legal aid which, from March 2013, will see the availability of legal advice and representation dramatically reduced. 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. We find 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. We discuss 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.

Keywords: legal aid, LASPO; self-help; self-representation; methodology

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Denvir, Catrina and Balmer, Nigel and Pleasence, Pascoe T., When Legal Rights Are Not a Reality: Do Individuals Know Their Rights and How Can We Tell? (April 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2621885

Catrina Denvir (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Nigel Balmer

Victoria Law Foundation ( email )

5/43 Hardware Lane
Melbourne, 3000
Australia
3000 (Fax)

University College London

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Pascoe T. Pleasence

University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
218
PlumX Metrics