The cuts in legal aid announced today by the Government in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will force more and more people to represent themselves, often reluctantly, in complex, serious and potentially life-changing court proceedings, says the author of new book on the subject. Those now falling outside the legal aid scheme could include someone accused of domestic violence in the midst of a family dispute, perhaps over contact with children.
Lucy Reed, a practising family law barrister and author of a recently published book aimed at helping litigants in person in family proceedings ,explains:
“The exclusion of many family cases from the scope of legal aid will force many more people to have to represent themselves in court. This will include people trying to respond to serious allegations of physical violence or sexual abuse against a former partner or child, and where the decisions being taken could have a lifelong impact upon their relationship with their children.”
Even more worryingly, Lucy adds that
“A parent making an allegation of abuse will be able to obtain legal aid, but the parent on the receiving end will not, even though the allegations may not be true. “
This could lead to “inequality of arms” where one party is forced to fall back on doing it themselves while the other side in the dispute has access to the knowledge, resources and experience of a qualified legal representative.
The changes are announced in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill published today.
Notes For Editors:
- Family Courts without a Lawyer: A Handbook for Litigants in Person is published by Bath Publishing . Review copies are available on request.
- An associated website – www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk – has been published. The site contains working documents and resources referred to in the book
- Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is available here - http://bit.ly/ij3VWP
- A litigant in person is the term used for those representing their case in court without the assistance of a qualified legal representative.
- The author, Lucy Reed, is a barrister at St John's Chambers in Bristol. She is also the author of the well known family law blog, www.pinktape.co.uk.
- The author is available for media interviews and to write about the issues surrounding the funding and
practice of family justice. In the first instance please contact David Chaplin at the publisher –
- Bath Publishing are legal publishers, both in print and online, who have been providing information to family lawyers and others working in family justice since 2005. They founded, developed, managed and subsequently sold (in 2010) a leading online resource for the industry – www.familylawweek.co.uk
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Family Courts without a Lawyer: A Handbook for
Litigants in Person
Published: 3 June 2011
Extent: 336 pages
Website: Readers also have access to updates, useful documents and other resources on the accompanying website – www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk
David Chaplin, Publisher,
Bath Publishing Limited
27 Charmouth Road
Tel & Fax: 0870 165 1443
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