FAMILY LAW CASES TO BE SCRAPPED UNDER THE LEGAL AID SCHEME FROM APRIL 2013

The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act will cut £350m from the £2.2 billion legal aid bill. The cuts are expected to massively increase the number of unrepresented litigants significantly.

According to the government, in 53,800 family cases last year people received representation before the courts under the legal aid scheme – plus a further 211,000 family cases where people received initial advice and assistance. All family cases are to be scrapped under the legal aid scheme unless there is evidence of domestic violence.

According to the Ministry of Justice, almost one third of cases in the County Court (28%) involve at least one party unrepresented throughout the life of a case and close to one in five (17%) in the High Court.

Local Judges report the huge increase of unrepresented parties at court.  As from April 2013 there will be even less availability of legal aid as it will disappear for most family law cases. 

One Judge has said that just 5 years ago 90% of parties were represented by lawyers whereas now only half have solicitors representing them.  He has called for parties to be aware of the dangers of DIY litigation.  He says DIY litigants are ‘already spending hundreds of pounds in court fees just to get into the courts. To spend another £100 or £200 on proper legal advice has to be good value’.

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