The government – having recently announced that the UK’s Legal Aid budget is to be cut by £350m – have now indicated that it will be the family courts which are to be subjected to the most significant reductions in funding with a quarter of a million people likely to find themselves unrepresented. This will leave many vulnerable individuals with no option but to represent themselves in complex and emotionally trying divorce and childcare cases.
Considering the intricacies of legal matters and the extremely emotional nature of the cases that are placed before the family court, litigants-in-person, as they are known, find themselves at a distinct disadvantage when deprived of legal representation or advice.
Yes, individuals who represent themselves will often be afforded special consideration by Judges, but their lack of knowledge relating to how to behave within a court and uncertainty over how to present their arguments can see even relatively strong cases dismissed by experienced legal counsel. Worse yet, many applicants who will now be denied Legal Aid possess a poor grasp of the English language; some may even be mentally impaired.
Legal Aid was established in 1949 in order to ensure that people on low incomes would be represented in court. Conservative justice secretary Ken Clarke has now declared, however, that taxpayers can no longer afford the service. As a result people with over £315 in disposable monthly income or £1,000.00 in savings will now face personal legal bills.
In an attempt to prevent some of Britain’s most vulnerable individuals from being denied representation and the opportunity to seek justice the UK’s largest body of legal professionals, The Law Society, put forward alternative proposals to the government that it claimed would save £384m over the next twelve months. According to the organisation’s Chief Executive, Des Hudson, these proposals were ignored.
Experts have also noted that the withdrawal of Legal Aid will have significant effects on not just those individuals who are no longer afforded free representation, but society as a whole. Lucy Webley, a family law expert at Hallmark Hulme solicitors recently informed the Guardian that; “The knock-on effects of these cuts will have significant ramifications for wider society. Justice is at risk of not being done and we will all suffer for that.”
With these changes coming into play, the need for companies to supply the public with affordable legal assistance is more prevalent than ever and we here at Quickie Divorce
have already began formulating new packages designed to assist individuals who find themselves affected as a result of these changes.