Legal aid: the myths & the facts

Divorce|September 6th 2013

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.

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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  1. u6c00 says:

    The Comparing International Criminal Justice Systems document on the National Audit Office site has a graph on page 39 which shows that we are in fact exactly average inthe cost of our justice system:

    Page 39

  2. Luke says:

    ” This was in the face of fierce opposition from lawyers and campaigners for justice”

    Here’s the reality, people’s experience of the legal system is that it is so horrendously expensive – and seemingly designed to extract as much money as possible – people have no sympathy. They simply don’t care what lawyers think about because they don’t trust them to be objective on the subject.

    This sums it up the opposite and more popular point of view quite well:

  3. Bill says:

    In my experience, I can report that legal aid has not disappeared at all. There are people who want you to believe that it has (the government for one, because it does not want to be seen a squandering money), but this is not the case. Nothing has changed.

  4. Paul says:

    All you have to do to get legal aid is make up some phony allegation about domestic violence or child abuse. They dish it out like Smarties, along with the Non-Mol (ex-parte, of course) which you get as an extra free bonus.

  5. Stitchedup says:

    Spot on Paul. The sooner our poltical leaders, general public and media wise up to this the better. Unfortunately people have no idea how open to abuse the system is until it affects them. The way it is used against perfectly decent, hard working family men is a form of violence in itself! Most worringly it can result in a criminal conviction and perhaps a prison sentence for doing something that would normally be considered perfectly normal behaviour; nothing to do with genuine domestic violence.

  6. Brenda says:

    How rude , i assure you , that simply is not the case , i own two houses and do not get an income from either as my husband is abusive , i am scared to challage , but on paper i look like a have a few quid.
    My son has been on the child protection register for 2 years because of this mans behaviour this is my 4 attempt tp divorce , i have been beaten by masked men in my own home , he has had me arrested twice , knowing the trauma it will cause , so to all you who belive people make up DV .
    So once again i have wrote to the courts and awaite my out come , this person is an abuser and i wait in fear for the grand exit , i am an accident waiting to happen , so how is that fair

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