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Legal Aid changes from 1st April 2013

This article was written by Ruth Allanson, a Solicitor within the Family Law department at Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors. Ruth specializes in child law matters, divorce and domestic abuse law.

From the 1st April there will be significant changes to the way in which public funding (legal aid) operates and which may impact upon your case.

If you are already in receipt of Legal Help (which does not cover representation at court) or Family Representation, you will continue to receive it. However the rules will apply to any new public funding application you wish to make making an application to court.

From April 2013 public funding will only be available to individuals who fulfil very specific criteria set down by the Legal Services Commission (the government body who deal with legal aid). You will only get legal help or legal aid if your case relates to any of the following;

  1. Care Proceedings - when Social Services become involved with your family
  2. Private Family Law - where there is evidence of domestic violence and you are the victim
  3. Private Children Law - where there is evidence of child abuse
  4. Child Abduction matters
  5. Representation of a child
  6. Legal Advice in support of mediation
  7. Injunctions
  8. Forced marriage protection orders

If you do not fulfil these very specific criteria, you will not qualify for new public funding.

Therefore if your case is one which cannot be resolved without making an application to the court it will be necessary for you to make an application for public funding before these new changes come into effect. Please bear in mind that usually the Legal Services Commission insist you must attempt mediation before you can make an application for public funding and this can take some time.

If you are a client, or you'd like to discuss making an application for public funding and how these changes might affect you please contact the Family Law Department here at Canter Levin & Berg as soon as possible.

By Ruth Allanson