The Justice Select Committee’s Inquiry into Access to Justice

The Justice Select Committee's Inquiry into Access to Justice, submission of the Association of Lawyers for Children.

IMPACT OF THE PROPOSED CHANGES ON THE NUMBER AND QUALITY OF PRACTITIONERS is considered at pages 3 to 4. We explain that the government, which is well placed through its agencies to have conducted a proper impact survey, has failed to do so, and shows no signs of doing so now. We refer to the research currently being undertaken, in default, by The Law Society, and give our views as to the seriousness of the likely impact of these proposals both on the number and quality of practitioners.

TYPES OF CASE WHICH WILL NOT COME BEFORE THE COURT AND HOW THE ISSUES INVOLVED WILL BE RESOLVED are considered at pages 4 to 5. We explain our view that a large proportion of the family cases taken out of scope will come before the courts but with the added disadvantage that the parents will be litigants in person, and we develop the consequences.

WHAT OTHER ACTION ON LEGAL AID COULD BE TAKEN is considered at pages 5 to 6. We refer to benefits of moving to a specialist Family Court jurisdiction, the introduction of “no fault” divorce, and the tackling of various “pinch points” within the family justice system such as CAFCASS and HMCS.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS are considered at pages 6 to 23. We set out and explain what we consider to be the five most serious implications of these proposals, namely (1) issues relating to the current Family Justice Review, (2) the singling out of a “domestic violence” component as a gateway to eligibility for funding in private law family cases, and the relegation of all other cases to the category of issues out of scope, (3) the impact of an increase in litigants in person, (4) the impact of introducing a single telephone gateway and (5) the resultant increase, rather than decrease, in acrimony and litigation.

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