Legal aid cuts leave people ‘stressed and powerless’

Family Law|October 30th 2015

People who are ineligible for legal aid feel “stressed, powerless and unable to get on with life” as a result, researchers have claimed.

An upcoming report by Middlesex University and anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall details the experiences of people in London who need legal representation but do not have the means to pay for it.

In 2012, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act was introduced by the coalition government. It made deep cuts to legal aid. After this legislation was enacted, there was effectively no legal aid available for family law cases unless one party could prove domestic violence had occurred.

Researchers found that a majority of the people they spoke too – 78 per cent – reported feeling high levels of anxiety as a result of their inability to access legal aid. Respondents also claimed this stress had had a negative effect on their ability as a parent or their performance at work.

Dr Alessio D’Angelo is a senior social sciences lecturer at Middlesex University. He said that access to justice has been “dramatically eroded by the recent cuts to legal aid”. The cuts are “jeopardising the rule of law” and that the “most vulnerable people in society are being affected disproportionately”, he added.

Chief Executive of Toynbee Hall Graham Fisher called for legal aid to be reinstated for family, employment and housing matters. He said that “a fresh look at means testing and eligibility” was also required. In addition to the return of legal help, Mr Fisher claimed that “more emotional support should be provided for people experiencing anxiety and distress”.

The report, Sleepless nights: accessing justice without legal aid, will be officially launched at a seminar in London on 9 November. For more information, click here.

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(6)

  1. Legal aid cuts leave people ‘stressed and powerless’ - Marilyn Stowe Blog • LegalBeagles.info says:

    […] Source: Legal aid cuts leave people ‘stressed and powerless’ – Marilyn Stowe Blog […]

  2. Andrew says:

    “There was effectively no legal aid available for family law cases unless one party could prove domestic violence had occurred.”
    .
    No, that party has to allege d.v. in certain approved ways.
    .
    And the alleged perpetrator? No legal aid there. Artivce 6, anybody?

    • stitchedup says:

      Absolutely Andrew…. I noticed Mr. Bolch was spouting off about article 6 in another post, but sees fit to turn a blind eye to this breach of article 6. Indeed… He appears to favour men accused of minor dv incidences being tagged before they have been found guilty of anything

    • stitchedup says:

      Within Stowe family law there appears to be a reluctance to acknowledge that no proof is needed to secure legal aid when a dv allegation has been made….. Why is this??? Why do we see it stated in article after article that there has to be proven dv to secure legal aid???

  3. Luke says:

    =====
    “Researchers found that a majority of the people they spoke too – 78 per cent – reported feeling high levels of anxiety as a result of their inability to access legal aid. ”
    =====
    .
    I’m sure that people who didn’t get legal aid (and as a result losing their life savings) whilst fighting off the other party who was getting legal aid will have felt high levels of anxiety too – but of course that’ was all OK because everybody in the legal profession was making good money out of it…

  4. Yvie says:

    I am sure there are plenty of people feeling very stressed and anxious that there is no more legal aid, as they will now have to meet the costs themselves. Both parties should be liable to pay their own costs, not the taxpayer. Many will turn to the ‘domestic violence’ route purely to avoid such costs. Unfortunately this could have the detrimental effect of blackening another person’s good name without justification.

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