Legal Aid firms across the country await an announcement from the Legal Services Commission (which administers the legal aid scheme) as to the future proposals for being able to provide legal aid to clients in relation to family law matters. New arrangements to carry out this work were scheduled to begin from 15th October 2010. However, the number of offices authorised to provide family legal aid would have been reduced by approximately 46%.
Concerns were raised from various quarters that vulnerable people would struggle to get the help they needed. This led to the Law Society bringing a successful challenge in the High Court. A declaration was made in September that the process to award the new contracts had been unlawful.
Subsequent to the High Court’s decision, the existing contracts to carry out legal aid work in family cases have been currently extended until the 14th December 2010. The Legal Services Commission are yet to announce what they propose should happen after that.
Farleys has always been proud of its support of the legal aid scheme in the various formats it has taken since its inception. Legal aid means that Farleys can continue to help many more people when they most need it than would otherwise be the case.
However, as with many things at present, it is almost certain that there will be cuts in the availability of family legal aid in the future. The level and timescale for those cuts remains unclear, but we may well see legal aid being restricted for many financial claims, with cuts for divorce and disputes concerning arrangements for children also possible.