Family Justice Manifesto calls on the government to rethink plans

An alliance representing families, children and victims of domestic abuse has sent MPs a manifesto calling for the government to protect vulnerable women and children, listen to experienced family practioners regarding the use of mediation and to reconsider the proposed cuts to legal aid.

The group which includes the Family Law Bar Association, Resolution, Liberty and the Children’s Commissioner are concerned that cuts to legal aid will lead to a rise in individuals conducting their own cases.  They argue that this will cause unmanageable delays and could subject vulnerable witnesses to cross-examination by alleged abusers in Court.

When the government consulted on the proposals, very few practioners supported them.  The Ministry of Justice has highlighted that at a cost of £2 billion a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world. Proposed changes by the government seek to reform a system which they consider encourages lengthy, acrimonious and sometimes unnecessary Court proceedings at the taxpayers’ expense. Whilst most family lawyers recognise that reform of the Family Justice system is needed there are concerns that the proposed changes will lead to more rather than fewer problems.  For instance, increased use of mediation is being encouraged.  Mediation is undeniably beneficial in many cases but it is inappropriate for others. An increase in the number of litigants in person may result in poorer case outcomes, longer delays and lower prospects of settlement i.e. the opposite of what the reforms are trying to achieve.

For more information contact Stevens & Bolton LLP family associate Elen Humphreys on +44 (0) 1483 734 211 or by email to elen.humphreys@stevens-bolton.com
 

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