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The cuts, removing access to Legal Aid for a range of issues including employment, family problems, clinical negligence cases, divorces and problems with housing, are being brought in by the government to reduce the £2 billion annual bill for Legal Aid.
Hazel, a Partner at Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors, believes the effect of the cuts will only result in the transfer of legal costs which could lead to higher charges in the court system. This would reduce the availability of vital legal services for people who can least afford these charges. Speaking about the issue, Hazel said:
“I believe that people do not go to court as their first choice. In my experience it is their last resort. I have been practising as a Family Law Solicitor for over a decade and I am yet to meet anyone who views the experience of going to court over a family law matter as enjoyable!
My clients are often stressed and distressed that their family life has come to this, and I dread to think how these people will cope in the absence of the support, guidance and advice of a family solicitor. It takes years to qualify as a Solicitor and even longer to become specialised/expert in a particular area of law.
I struggle to understand how ordinary members of the public with no legal experience can be expected to understand the system, prepare legal arguments, understand or even have access to case law/practice directions? Quite simply they can’t and the Judiciary are not there to be legal advisors, they are case managers and decision makers, whose already difficult job is about to get much harder.
To cut legal aid in areas where the most vulnerable of society seek advice, is in my opinion short sighted and will only shift the problem somewhere else!”
Hazel’s comments come on the day that President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, spoke to the BBC about his own concerns regarding the legal aid cuts. Lord Neuberger said that he was worried the cuts could restrict access to justice to such a degree that people who cannot afford to go to court may “take the law into their own hands”. In his BBC interview, Lord Neuberger, who is the country’s most senior judge, said:
"My worry is the removal of legal aid for people to get advice about law and get representation in court will start to undermine the rule of law because people will feel like the government isn't giving them access to justice in all sorts of cases.
And that will either lead to frustration and lack of confidence in the system, or it will lead to people taking the law into their own hands.”
Family solicitors can help you with a wide variety of situations you might find yourself in throughout life. The family solicitors at Canter Levin and Berg can help you if you want advice or representation in connection with a divorce, children’s law, civil partnerships, cases of domestic abuse and any other aspects of family law. Whatever your family law issue, we aim to provide you with professional legal advice to help you when you need it the most.
If you want advice or representation in connection with divorce, civil partnerships, family or children law matters, please call us on 0151 239 1000 and ask to speak to one of our Family Solicitors.