Friday, 5 August 2011

Will legal aid cuts cause the courts to grind to a halt?

The legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill was published last month. Today Jon Robbins writing in the Guardian suggests that the legal aid cuts will bring more DIY cases into court and consequently cause the legal system to grind to a halt.

The proposed cuts include the removal of legal aid in all private family law cases unless there has been established domestic violence. The consequence of this would be to prevent individuals obtaining legal aid for family law matters, including divorce proceedings and children act proceedings (such as residence and contact disputes).

Mr Robbins notes that last year there were 211,000 family law cases where initial advice and assistance was provided and a further 53,800 where individuals were provided with representation at court under the legal aid system. In future where would those 264,800 people turn?

It is widely anticipated by many family law solicitors that more individuals will choose to act as litigants in person, rather than privately paying for a family solicitor. It is argued that this will cause considerable delays in the already overburdened court system. There is also a concern that those who lack the knowledge and experience to put forward their case effectively will be detrimentally affected if they do not receive proper support and assistance.   

For more advice on family law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

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