DIY Justice – BBC Panorama and cuts to Legal Aid

_81925447_ladyjusticeOn Monday Night, BBC Panorama aired a program demonstrating the difficulties parents and couples have experienced since the introduction of cuts to the Legal Aid system in April 2013.

Since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, Legal Aid is no longer available in the vast majority of family cases, including Divorce and Private Law Children matters, unless the person can demonstrate they have been subjected to domestic abuse, within a defined time period, or that other exceptional circumstances apply.

This reduction in Legal Aid means that many parents represent themselves within complex Court proceedings relating to their Children.

In addition to this, many couples have not taken legal advice upon separation, which may result in future claims being made against them by their former spouse. This may in turn lead to a significant financial loss should one spouses’ financial circumstances change significantly after separation.

Whilst Legal Aid is still available within Care Proceedings and other Public Law matters this is little comfort to parents and couples who are in disputes without a Local Authority’s involvement.

The program also highlighted a recent report stating that family cases can take up to 50% longer to conclude since the introduction of the cuts, however this is disputed by the government.

Josiah Hincks family law solicitors in Leicester, Blaby, Syston, Coalville and Market Harborough have noticed the clear difficulties parents and couples have experienced since April 2013 and share many of the concerns raised by the program and clients we speak to on a daily basis.  With further cuts due parties access to funding may only become more difficult in the future.

For any assistance in relation to Legal Aid, Care Proceedings or other family and childcare matters, please do not hesitate to contact your local office.