About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

FAMILY LEGAL AID PLANS TORN APART IN DAMNING JUSTICE SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT

Legal Services Commission proposals to cut legal support for vulnerable children and families have been savaged in a damning report from the all-party Justice Select Committee.

The report, published today, concludes that 'proposals for reform were based on incomplete data, [and] a superficial understanding of the supply of legal services in this area'.

The LSC's approach to reform is condemned as 'flawed, weak and inflexible'. It is criticised for a 'conclusions first, evidence after' approach to policy-making, having commissioned Ernst & Young to gather data to inform its thinking after proposing swingeing cuts to the system.

Commenting today, Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), Lucy Theis QC said:
'Surely now the LSC will wake up to reality: its plans for family legal aid are unwelcome, unworkable and unwanted.

'On reading this report, Justice Ministers will realise that the LSC has failed a basic test of competence when it comes to delivering reform.

'The Commissions determination to bulldoze through ill-considered changes without proper evidence or any analysis of the impact upon budget or diversity risks irreparable damage to the protection of vulnerable children and families.

Desmond Browne QC, Chairman of the Bar Council added:
'This is a simply devastating condemnation of the LSC's hapless efforts at reform. It shows that it is not practitioners who have pushed up the cost of legal aid. The LSC’s proposals were based on flawed data and were introduced without any prior assessment of the economic impact or the consequences for women and BME practitioners.

‘As the Committee says, without qualification, this is discriminatory. It is wholly inconsistent with the Government’s desire to see a more diverse pool of advocates from which in time a more diverse judiciary can be appointed.

He added:
'The Committee has endorsed every single one of the concerns of the FLBA and the Bar Council.

‘The Committee has confirmed our warning that there is a serious risk of an exodus of experienced practitioners from publicly-funded family law practice.
'The time has now come for Ministers to act on our concerns. As the Committee says: “there needs to be fundamental change of attitude on the part of the LSC”.'

1 comment:

alisonegypt said...

I despair for my Clients.
Due to the new Legal Aid reforms regarding Barristers, this will force many profeshionals out of Public Law Cases, resulting in many Parents having to represent themselves, in the Family Court arena.
Experienced Mackenzie friends are few.
Parents will not have the knowledge or means, to fight their Case, of which is a very complex form of Law.
PAIN recently sent a McKenzie representative up to the Family Court in Cumbria, for a Public Law Case, we have been dealing with for several months.
On arrival at Court, Yvonne was told by the Client, in front of her Social Worker, that if PAIN,continued to be involved in this Case, the Parents would have their Children adopted,and all forthcoming assessments canceled.
Due to LA threats, we have had to butt out, leaving this poor Lady, without any Legal representation, it was to late in the day, for any Children's Panel Solicitor to take the case on.
I will be speaking to my Co Workers, with reference to a complaint.
Alison Stevens Parents Against Injustice.