Bring back legal aid says Bar Council

family law

The Bar Council has called on whichever government wins power next month to fully restore legal aid.

In a newly published Manifesto for Justice it claims that justice has been transforming into a two tier system since the drastic cuts introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishiment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012, which came into force the following year.

The Council explains:

“Five years later nearly half a million people a year no longer receive legal advice on employment, housing, welfare and family issues.”

But despite government claims, the cuts have been counter-productive the Council insists.

“[The cuts do] not save money for the country because unresolved legal problems create other expensive problems for society. The social costs cannot be ignored.”

The courts have filled with litigants in person who cannot afford lawyers “and for whom the state now makes no provision.”

Others, meanwhile, avoid the courts altogether and seek no resolution for their legal issues.

The Council warns that:

“Disengagement of sectors of society can lead to a growing sense of injustice which of itself risks populism and extremism.”

The Bar Council also wants the new government to make a fresh and clear commitment to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and to invest in courtroom infrastructure, amongst other highlighted issues.

The Bar Council represents and promotes barristers across England and Wales.

Read the Council’s manifesto, entitled The Value of Justice, here.

Image by Hugh Kimura via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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4 comments

spinner - May 14, 2017 at 10:17am

It’s not really a surprise that lawyers see the solution to the issues facing the legal system as being as simple as give more money to lawyers and everything will be fine. There was a reason why legal aid was stopped and that was because the system was not affordable, we run a large deficit in this country. Rapidly technology solutions will step in and it will be easier for everyone is organisations such as this just step out of the way as they are not offering any realistic solutions and are just part of the problem not part of the solution.

Paul - May 14, 2017 at 10:22am

I have to agree. (But not entirely) In my family law final hearing I was quoted a figure of £34-38000 to be represented. Considering my highest tax return was less than £17000 that is almost exactly 2 years pay for one day in court. Legal professionals do not seem to want to price themselves realisically.
Saying that. I don’t entirely agree that legal professionals should be able to claim these rediculous sums from the state. I think the answer is more ‘realistic’ pricing. With support of legal aid for those on low income. Having an open cheque book to charge whatever sums you like from the state would make legal professionals the very ‘worst’ kind of benefits cheat.
There is no way you need to quote two years salery for one day in court in a family court hearing. I was quoted £700 just to prepare the statement. If this sum covered the whole experience. The full day in court. Charging £700 a day legal professionals would still be earning a very high amount of money. Just not rediculous amounts of money. It would still be difficult for people on low income.
Now factor in the fact that I have been ‘deliberately’ stopped from seeing my children. For no reason at all. But to get back together with my children people want to take off me two years salery.
This is absolutly scandelous.
I also think its wrong for courts to treat people who self represent any differntly than those who are represented. Im certain this is the only reason why I was convicted of ‘harassment’ when I had pointed out exactly the law needed to clear me of wrong doing.
The legal profession should be rewarding
But it should not represent out right robbery of people forced to use the system. The people who attend court are a captive audience and ushually have no choice but to be their. It is moral wrong to extort these people.

J - May 15, 2017 at 8:46pm

Legal Aid in certain family law situations is crucial. The law is a mine field, and proper representation is crucial. My lawyer charges £200 per hour, but Natalee doesn’t get paid anything like that, that is what the law firm charges. We need to be careful that we do not alienate lawyers because the firms are the problem. Setting caps on charges is the realistic way to go, setting a monthly cap on the amount to be charges is another, as it setting rates for court hearings etc. The old system was flawed, but scrapping it did not solve the problem, it simply moved it elsewhere, and unresolved a lot of the costs falls on the Police and the rest of the Criminal Justice system to sweep up the debris left in the wake.

Unless you have been in the situation where you require a lawyer to fight your case, I think it is difficult to judge. My ex has a “public access” Barrister, he’s basically an ambulance chaser who has turned to family law, but she was granted legal aid initially by claiming harassment, because I want to see my children and because I initially wanted to repair our relationship. She lied and voila… The law is sexist and biased, so until that is resolved, legal aid is a must in many cases to provide a solution.

It is not about the parents or the lawyers, it is about the children.

Paul - May 16, 2017 at 10:22am

Why are women able to claim ‘abuse’ at any given moment and not be challenged over it. This is a national disgrace. They are been actively encouraged to lie and wage a slander campaign against their expartner. Solicitors and the police are actively advising women to do it.
If they claim CSA then it is free if they claim abuse. If they go to court then legal aid is only availible if you claim abuse.
The term ‘abussive’ is judgement. The only one making judgements in court should be the judge.
I totally disagree that this is all about the children. An I think the law needs too as well. If the childs father is broke of suicidal then that will negatively effect the children. Families are linked. You can’t effect one without impacting the rest.

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