Wrong About Rights: Public Knowledge of Key Areas of Consumer, Housing and Employment Law in England and Wales
24 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 2017
Over many decades, processes of juridification have brought about huge growth in legal rights, responsibilities and protections, yet citizens appear to poorly understand this ‘law thick’ world. This impacts citizens’ capacity to ‘name, blame and claim’ in the legal domain at a time of retreat from public funding of civil legal services. This article examines public knowledge of rights in key areas relating to consumer, housing and employment law. Drawing on data from the 2010–2012 English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, the article uses responses to a series of hypothetical scenarios to explore public knowledge of rights and characteristics associated with knowledge. Our findings highlight a substantial deficit in individuals’ understanding of legal rights and responsibilities – even among those for whom particular rights and responsibilities have specific bearing. We also consider what these findings mean for public legal education and the efficiency, efficacy and legitimacy of the law.
Keywords: legal rights, access to justice, public legal education, justiciable problems, civil justice
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