At the end of March, ARAG was proud to join like-minded businesses and other organisations that share a common goal in preserving access to justice in the UK as a founder member of ACSO, the Association of Consumer Support Organisations. Underwriting & Marketing Director David Haynes explains why.

While there are numerous industry bodies that have an interest in preserving the rights of everyday people to seek and secure justice through our embattled legal system, they are diverse in both their objectives and their constituencies.

From the Legal Action Group to the Law Society, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) to various trade unions, there is no shortage of will to stand up for consumer rights in the civil justice system. Important as all of these bodies are, some have questioned whether their number and diversity converts that will into action as effectively as it might.

There is no question that access to justice has declined enormously in recent years. Severe cuts to Ministry of Justice budgets have closed courts, tribunals and law centres while slashing Legal Aid. At the same time, the legislative agenda has tipped the scales of justice away from individual consumers in favour of employers, insurers and their shareholders.

The Civil Liability Act is just the latest example of legislation that will significantly inhibit access to justice, in this case for motorists.

ACSO’s core purpose is to represent the interests of consumers in the civil justice system and to engage with policymakers, regulators, industry and the media to rebuild a functioning, competitive and sustainable justice system that works for honest citizens.

At the same time, ACSO will drive best practice that improves service to all of those consumers who find themselves engaged with the justice system.

The starting agenda for ACSO is one full of items in which ARAG has a strong interest: The implementation and proper assessment of the Civil Liability Act; clinical negligence reform; best practice in claims management; as well as a legal expenses insurance working group in which we are already playing an active part.

These are subjects that affect our policyholders and every other consumer, often when they are at their most vulnerable. Preserving access to justice for all citizens has always been at the very heart of what ARAG does. ACSO shares that commitment and will help us and like-minded organisations to be heard.

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Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.