Further cuts in legal aid will encourage injustice, legal council claims

Old BaileyGovernment plans to make further cuts to legal aid will encourage “injustice and miscarriages of justice”, the Family Justice Council has claimed.

In its official response to a recent government consultation on legal aid, the Council said the impact of the cuts introduced in April had yet to be fully assessed.

“Those changes already in place will inevitably result in a reduction in overall legal aid expenditure, as yet unevaluated and it is questionable whether further reduction will produce the overall savings sought. Additional changes to civil legal aid, will drastically reduce its availability to the youngest and most vulnerable in our society, risking injustice and miscarriages of justice which are likely to be wholly disproportionate to the money saved.”

The government consultation, entitled Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a more credible and efficient system, claims that:

“…against a backdrop of continuing financial pressure on public finances, we need to continue to bear down on public spending.”

The consultation proposes, amongst other measures, a ten per cent cut in the representation fees for solicitors  working within legal aid family law cases, and a 20 per cent reduction in the fees available to expert witnesses. Such changes would, the government claims, “deliver savings of £220 million per year by 2018/19.

But the Family Law Council does not accept that such cuts would be necessary, proportionate or in the interests of justice. It notes:

“The Family Justice Review in November 2011 highlighted that the supply of properly qualified and experienced lawyers is vital for the protection of children and to the efficient running of public law proceedings.”

The Family Justice Council is an independent public body providing expert advice on the operation of the family justice system in England and Wales.

Photo by Joe Dunckley via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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5 comments

Paul - June 24, 2013 at 4:58pm

I have mixed views on legal aid in family cases. On the one hand the system has been grossly abused. Many beneficiaries have used it to prolong unsustainable cases or make false allegations to deny contact. That isa straightforward abuse of the system in my view. On the other hand, rather than deal with a nutter of an ex, I would much rather contend with a solicitor acting for the nutter. At least that way there is some semblance of reason and common sense coming from the other side.

Observer - June 25, 2013 at 1:20am

Paul, in all my years, I haven’t seen much reason or sense in the words or deeds of legal people. That’s not what they are paid for. They are paid to lie, cheat, manipulate, and there is not much sense or reason in either. I’ve seen cases where the legal people are so much more berserk than your nutter.

Marilyn Stowe - June 25, 2013 at 3:19pm

Dear Observer
Thanks so much for this. Its made the cut ….this time!
Regards
Marilyn

Lukey - June 26, 2013 at 9:07pm

The problem is that the “Family Justice Council” has a dog in this fight doesn’t it ?

It is hardly going to say

“oh yes, let’s have less money going into the legal system”

is it !

probation officer - June 29, 2013 at 1:22pm

Grayling and his injustice is awful. I doubt he even cares. There’s even a song about his injustice by probation officers

It’s Criminal – The Probation Song Against Privatisation (Youtube)

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