As regular readers will know, most family law legal aid disappeared down the plughole of Government cuts in April 2013. If the increase in visitors to this blog and sales of my Divorce & Splitting Up book are anything to go by, the inevitable has happened already: the number of people in need of access to expert legal advice has soared.
It may be too late for family law legal aid, but the controversies surrounding the cuts to legal aid for other areas of law continue to rumble on. Just this week, justice minister Chris Grayling announced a partial U-turn on proposals to award legal aid contracts to the lowest bidders. This was in the face of fierce opposition from lawyers and campaigners for justice, who warned the move would “irrevocably damage the criminal justice system.”
I note that Grayling and the supporters of his legal aid cuts, in the media and elsewhere, continue to advance the same arguments that were put forward when family law legal aid faced the axe. They maintain that the amount spent on legal aid in England and Wales every year makes it “one of the most expensive legal systems in the world”, and describe the “spiralling” legal aid bill.
So here’s a little food for thought for the weekend. This factsheet can be found and was compiled by The South Eastern Circuit: one of the six geographical circuits representing barristers in England and Wales.