Four years ago, the then government implemented the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). Hundreds of thousands of people who were eligible for legal aid on 31 March 2013 became ineligible the very next day.
Four years on, the Law Society has conducted a review of the legal aid changes introduced under the act. This review concludes that:
- Legal aid is no longer available for many of those who need it
- Those eligible for legal aid find it hard to access it
- Wide gaps in provision are not being addressed
- LASPO has had a wider and detrimental impact on the state and society
Our family lawyers see the impact of this every day with, for example,
- clients unable to afford to seek justice through the courts; or
- where they have instructed us but their former partner is unrepresented, proceedings take much longer and become much more acrimonious because the other side don’t have access to sensible legal advice
- court listing is delayed because cases take much longer to be heard
- referrals to mediation (which was a pre-requisite of applying for legal aid ) have plummeted so this useful mechanism for resolving cases before court proceedings has been side-lined.
Much of the financial cost of family legal aid was recovered before from clients when their costs were recovered from property or capital recovered in the case.
The true costs to society of dismantling the family legal aid system and preventing access to justice are immeasurable.
For more information on our family law services please visit: Family Law and Divorce.
Articles regarding this topic have recently been published in the media
31st October 2017: The Guardian published: Impact of legal aid cuts comes under review
22nd September 2017: The Law Gazette published: Bach calls for human right to legal aid
22nd September 2017: The Guardian published: A Labour backed report calls for a more generous legal aid system