Monday, 21 July 2014

19,000 more unrepresented parents in courts

More than 19,000 more parents appeared in civil courts with no lawyer in cases about children in the year after legal aid cuts, it has emerged.  Legal aid helps with legal costs, such as hiring a solicitor, for people who cannot afford to pay.

Since April 2013, a range of civil cases including custody battles have not qualified for legal aid.  In 2013/14 66,388 people had no lawyer in child civil cases in England and Wales - compared to 47,214 in 2021/13.

The Ministry of Justice said there had always been many self-represented people, and mediation funding had been increased.

When the Ministry of Justice made the legal aid cuts it said courts should be a 'last resort', but the figures show the number of child civil cases in courts rose by more than a thousand to 114,000 in 2013/14 compared to the previous year.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said:  "We've increased mediation funding as it's often more successful, less expensive and less stressful than going to court.  In some cases - such as where domestic violence is involved - court clearly is the only answer and we've made sure legal aid remains available here."

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