Mary O’Hara in The Guardian: “With warnings coming thick and fast about the stark ramifications of the government’s sweeping cuts to legal aid, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with a new way to plug some gaps in access to justice. Enter the legal crowdfunder, CrowdJustice, an online platform where people who might not otherwise get their case heard can raise cash to pay for legal representation and court costs.
The brainchild of 33-year-old lawyer Julia Salasky, and the first of its kind in the UK, CrowdJustice provides people who have a public interest case but lack adequate financial resources with a forum where they can publicise their case and, if all goes to plan, generate funding for legal action by attracting public support and donations.
“We are trying to increase access to justice – that’s the baseline,” says Salasky. “I think it’s a social good.”
The platform was launched just a few months ago, but has already attracteda range of cases both large and small, including some that could set important legal precedents.
CrowdJustice has helped the campaign, Jengba (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) to raise funds to intervene in a supreme court case to consider reforming the law of joint enterprise that can find people guilty of a crime, including murder, committed by someone else. The group amassed £10,000 in donations for legal assistance as part of their ongoing challenge to the legal doctrine of “joint enterprise”, which disproportionately prosecutes people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds for violent crimes where it is alleged they have acted together for a common purpose.
In another case, a Northern Irish woman who discovered she wasn’t entitled to her partner’s occupational pension after he died because of a bureaucratic requirement that did not apply to married couples, used CrowdJustice to help raise money to take her case all the way to the supreme court. “If she wins, it will have an enormous precedent-setting value for the legal rights of all couples who cohabit,” Salasky says….(The Guardian)”