Legal aid cuts have increased costs elsewhere, judges declare

News|May 14th 2014

Cuts in legal aid are a false economy, and have in fact increased court costs, according to an organisation representing senior judges.

The Judicial Executive Board questioned the economy of the cuts in a written submission to the Commons Justice Select Committee, which is investigating the effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). Changes included significant cuts to legal aid provision.

The Judicial Executive Committee’s submission states:

“The apparent saving of cost by a reduction in the legal aid budget needs to be viewed in context: often it simply leads to increased cost elsewhere in the court system as, for example, anecdotally, cases take longer.”

The cuts have also led to a significant surge in the number of unrepresented individuals – ‘litigants in person’ – appearing in court, the judges note.

“In the courts, since LASPO came into force, there has been a large increase in the number of cases where one or both parties do not have legal representation – most prominently in private law family litigation. Where legal aid has been removed and individuals have become self-represented, the adverse impact upon courts’ administration and efficiency has therefore been considerable.”

Meanwhile, there has also been a drop in the number of cases resolved through mediation, the submission states, straining the resources of courts and tribunals.

“The absence of funding for crucial experts’ reports in private law family work in particular has had significant consequences. The judiciary’s experience is that the absence of pre-proceedings advice in the tribunals’ jurisdictions has resulted in an increase in unmeritorious claims and, almost certainly, some meritorious cases never being brought.”

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(4)

  1. Pete says:

    “Meanwhile, there has also been a drop in the number of cases resolved through mediation, the submission states, straining the resources of courts and tribunals”
    ————————————-
    No surprise there , while I was interrogated by the mediator she would then spend a great deal of time explaining to my ex what she was entitled too .
    ===============
    “The apparent saving of cost by a reduction in the legal aid budget needs to be viewed in context: often it simply leads to increased cost elsewhere in the court system as, for example, anecdotally, cases take longer.”
    ———————————–
    With most people on less than £20 an hour and solicitors fee’s near or over £200 an hour is it any wonder that people cant afford a solicitor. It took over 12 months to get my divorce even with a solicitor so how longer are these cases taking.
    Family law is over due a review listening to the comments of judges and lawyers who seem on a different planet . Its more about how much money they can make than the people whose lives the they destroy .

  2. Luke says:

    I think you make a strong point Pete – regardless of how just or unjust our courts actual decisions are when it comes to the cost in my view we have a cumbersome “Rolls Royce” adversarial system for a general public that generally can barely afford a “Ford”.

    This is one of the main flaws in the Legal Aid argument – generally neither party can afford the court costs so if one party gets Legal Aid they have a massive advantage and can use that to get a better result for themselves.

    What I think we really need is a new streamlined system but only the ‘little people’ would benefit from that so I don’t see it happening.

  3. Andrew says:

    Litigation costs the community more without legal aid – who’d have thought it?

  4. Legal Aid Cuts on BBC Radio Humberside - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] Earlier today I appeared on the Lizzie and Carl breakfast show on BBC Radio Humberside to discuss the legal aid cuts. […]

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