Resolution response to the PAC report on civil legal aid reforms

04 Feb 2015

Jo Edwards

Today’s report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the legal aid cuts is rightfully damning of the Government’s failure properly to assess the damage that the removal of family legal aid would cause before implementing its devastating reforms, says family law organisation Resolution.

Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution, comments: “The PAC’s conclusion that the Government’s cuts to family legal aid have significantly hindered access to justice for many ordinary British people comes as no surprise to those of us who work with separating families every day.”

“The PAC’s report shows that family lawyers, far from fitting the stereotype of money-hungry solicitors pushing people towards expensive court battles, in fact played a key role in keeping family disputes out of court before the legal aid cuts were implemented. The rise in contested proceedings and drop in mediation numbers since the removal of family legal aid is no coincidence - it confirms that timely and appropriate legal advice is crucial to helping separating couples manage conflict and costs during their divorce.”

She continues: “The PAC has recommended that the Ministry review the impact of the reforms and the ongoing issues that the cuts to legal aid are causing for access to justice in this country. Resolution has long been pressing for a wholesale impact assessment.”

“Resolution proposes that funding be made available for initial legal advice in family cases. It may be a combination of services, so that people are able to receive help from a legal professional at the points in the process where they need it most – so even if they end up representing themselves, they have an initial discussion about what they need or want to do.”

“This would provide a more comprehensive system of support and enable vulnerable people to access the domestic violence gateway to legal aid, and find out about all of the dispute resolution options available to them. It is also likely to result in a higher referral rate to mediation, as it would restore a major source point of access that existed before the cuts to legal aid. This would significantly reduce the number of litigants in person using the courts, whose issues do not always require court time but who, without access to legal advice, invariably think that court is the only option.”


Jo Edwards is available for interview on request.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

ยท Fiona Ivits 0203 195 2469