Resolution responds to story on funding for care cases

Comment Piece

01 Sep 2016

Speaking in response to a recent news story regarding Sir James Munby's 14th 'View from the President's Chambers', a spokesperson for Resolution said:

"We are disappointed by this selective reporting of Sir James Munby’s comments about the representation of children in public law cases.

"What the President actually said was the tandem model – which rightly requires that children in care cases be represented by both a guardian and a solicitor – sometimes does necessitate wider legal support. He also said of any reformed model of representation that 'none of this can be allowed to prejudice the fundamentals of the tandem model.'

"The legal aid budget in England and Wales has been decimated by successive government cuts, not least the recent £350m taken out of the system through LASPO. Those who defend these decisions characterise it as taking money away from wealthy lawyers, but this distorts the reality.

"Setting aside for the moment that legal aid lawyers earn, on average, around £25,000 per year; the truth is that these cuts have made it harder for some of the most vulnerable in society – including, for example, victims of domestic abuse – to get access to justice.

"Whilst we all agree that taxpayers’ money should be carefully spent, the fact that government chose to exclude care cases from the most recent legal aid cuts demonstrates just how crucial it is to invest in ensuring the right outcomes for children in these cases, that their voices are heard, and that their safety is paramount. Without legal representation, these goals are virtually impossible to achieve.

"We are always happy to discuss how limited public funds can be best deployed to ensure children in care cases have access to justice. But cheap shots at lawyers, and selective reporting of statements from senior judges, is not the right way to have this debate."