In a recent case at Medway Family Court, Her Honour Judge Hammerton has said that the absence of legal aid funding had ‘undoubtedly’ placed the father at a disadvantage.
She also highlighted the emotional pressures on self-represented litigants and that if they continued unrepresented they might behave in ways they could later regret as feelings ran high.
The father had been denied Legal Aid funding (following the cuts two years ago) and was seeking to discharge a care order over his 12 year old son.
Another interesting fact to emerge from this case was that it was listed for a three-day hearing, the Judge having noticed that each previous hearing had significantly overrun its allotted time. This can often happen in cases with litigants in person as further explanations are required and those litigants may not be as succinct as a lawyer could be.
In the event, in this particular case, a Good Samaritan lawyer stepped in to represent the father free of charge, and the proceedings were dealt with in just half a day.
If you find yourself unable to afford a lawyer and facing proceedings in court, there are two ways we can help you:
Firstly, we offer a free advice clinic - for matters around divorce, separation, children, finances and civil partnerships. This runs on Thursdays in our Cowbridge office from 2-5pm. If you would like to find out how we can help you with free advice, please email me.
Secondly, we offer an advocacy service where we attend you at court - you can simply pay a fixed rate for one of our experienced advocacy solicitors to accompany you to Court and speak on your behalf. For further details, have a look at our web site, or email me.