The Effect of Reduced Legal Aid on Family Law

If you didn’t see this program recently on Panorama it’s worth watching: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05px4b9/panorama-diy-justice

It’s an insight into some of the problems thrown up by the withdrawal of legal aid for certain types of legal work including, as this program highlights, applications by parents in relation to their children. The cuts were brought in by the Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 [LASPO]. Amongst other things, it removed legal aid for divorce and actions between parents concerning their children.

Whether you agree with the cuts or not it is having an effect on whether some people are able to present their case fairly or at all and in that way affecting the right to access to justice.

The government's argument was that legal aid had got out of control and was costing the tax payer more than could be afforded. They questioned why the government was paying for people to get divorced. After all they don’t assist financially when people get married.

There were assertions about ‘fat cat lawyers’ which from my experience just doesn’t confirm the reality of the law firms that I deal with on a day to day basis. That is not to say they don’t exist, but they will not be the ones undertaking legal aid work.

Of course another consequence of the legal aid cuts was that many solicitors stopped doing certain types of work simply because legal aid was withdrawn or the legal aid that was left, simply didn’t allow them as a business to continue with it.

This means that access to advice for clients massively reduced. It also meant that more clients were having to represent themselves, and often not achieving what they deserved, simply because they were unfamiliar with the system and how to conduct the proceedings to present the case in the right way to their best advantage.

Instructing Woodfines in assisting you, doesn’t have to cost the earth. We take the view that we can provide advice and support at different levels, which might include:

  1. Fixed fees for initial meetings
  2. Fixed fees for certain types of work eg Divorce
  3. Advice on the basis of ‘pay as you go’ which will be short of full representation
  4. Support and representation in court for specific hearings - with clients undertaking the ‘work’ between hearings that is required to advance the case, and
  5. Full representation – where the solicitor will conduct the case from start to finish based on the instructions provided by clients

For more information

Please contact Milton Keynes family solicitor John Egan, or call on 01908 202150. 

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