Legal Aid funding for Family Law matters with effect from 1st April 2013

Changes to Legal Aid System April 2013

The legal aid system is undergoing fundamental change with effect from Monday 1st April 2013. The Legal Services Commission, the current provider of public funding, will be replaced by the Legal Aid Agency. Perhaps more importantly substantial cuts to legal aid will come into force by virtue of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (along with relevant supporting regulations). The scope of civil legal aid is going to be cut substantially from 1st April 2013.

Availability of Legal Aid for Divorce cases after April 2013

Legal aid advice and assistance will not, as a matter of course, be available in divorce cases including the resolution of financial and property claims and it will not be available as a matter of course in Private Law children issues; specifically with regard to residence and contact. It will still be available in Public Law, namely care proceedings. Otherwise legal aid advice and assistance will be limited to cases in which the Applicant is a victim of domestic abuse and thus there is an element of abusive behaviour involved.

Legal Aid for victims of abuse

An Applicant for legal aid will have to produce some evidence proving that he or she is a victim of abuse. Legal aid will not be available to assist in obtaining and supplying evidence of abusive behaviour and it will not cover any expenses that may need to be met in order to obtain and supply it. The Ministry of Justice which now will oversee the provision of public funding through the Legal Aid Agency will be drafting guidance and template letters to help with regard to the evidence that will be needed to show abusive behaviour.

Remember that save for most parties in care proceedings, in essence legal aid will continue to be subject to means testing. Entitlement will depend upon an Applicant’s income from all sources and an Applicant’s capital.

Legal aid cover will still be available (subject to eligibility) in relation to injunction proceedings and it may still be possible to obtain legal aid subject to being financially eligible if a failure to provide public funding would mean that the Applicant’s human rights would be breached. This primarily relates to the human right to a fair trial but could extend to other rights.

Applicant’s can pursue public funding but obviously there is now a real possibility that it will not be successful because availability/scope of legal aid cover is extremely limited.

Solicitors firms providing free Legal Aid

The number of firms of Solicitors undertaking publicly funded legal services is likely to continue reducing. This firm ended its legal aid contract late 2011.

Fixed Fee Divorce

Our charges for work carried out relating to Family Law matters are extremely competitive. We are able to agree fixed amounts in respect of specific work to be carried out by way of advice and legal assistance.

Free initial consultation for family law matters

A free of charge consultation of up to 30 minutes is normally possible so that full information, after the necessary discussion, can be given regarding costs in respect of specific legal services extending to the various areas of Family Law.

The purpose of this consultation will be to obtain a general overview of the circumstances so that we can provide you with a competitive and structured pricing plan for any legal advice or any legal assistance that you may require.

Important Note:
The above information is for general guidance and in part may form the opinion of the author. It is based on the law as at the date of this note or as stated in it. It should not be relied upon in part or in whole as a substitute for independent legal advice.

If you are considering how to fund your Divorce or other Family Law matters then please contact the writer, Richard Parrott, who will be pleased to advise you in light of your personal circumstances. We cannot accept any liability to third parties for the incorrect interpretation or application of the information contained on this page.