Britain's top judge warned Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today that cutting legal aid could see people taking the law into their own hands.
President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger offered a dire warning to Mr Grayling over new rules barring a broad swathe of cases from legal aid in a bid to cull £350 million from the Con-Dems' ledger.
Mr Grayling (pictured) vowed to further review the legal aid system last November, saying it "should be reserved for cases where there is genuine need."
But Lord Neuberger - known to choose his words with care - told the BBC he feared the cuts already taking effect next month would actually undermine the rule of law because "people would feel like the government isn't giving them access to justice in all sorts of cases.
"And that will either lead to frustration and lack of confidence in the system or it will lead to people taking the law into their own hands," he said.
Under the new rules all legal aid for education law, appealing benefit sanctions or rejected applications, consumer protection and clinical negligence will be cut completely.
And assistance with employment law will only cover discrimination lawsuits, in family law only cases involving domestic violence, in housing law only homelessness or health issues and in immigration law only detainees and asylum-seekers.
Even if covered, claimants must have a disposable income of less than £315 a month and less than £1,000 in assets to receive full funding.
Benefit claimants will no longer be automatically eligible and pensioners would have to chip in from their own savings.
Yet a defiant Mr Grayling announced further cuts to the legal aid bill within hours of the judge's comments, with plans to have lawyers competing for contracts on price by the end of next year.
He said: "We are working to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system as a whole, to move towards swifter resolution of cases before the courts."