Legal Aid lawyers as rare as NHS dentists warns Resolution

29 Nov 2006

Family lawyers group Resolution has reaffirmed its fears for the future of legal aid following today’s announcement about reform by Lord Falconer.

Says Resolution’s legal aid spokesman, David Emmerson: “We are pleased that Lord Falconer has taken our advice to review the timescales for implementing his plans, and to consult further on family law issues. But otherwise, there is very little here from which to take comfort. It looks as if legal aid family lawyers are set to go the way of NHS dentists – simply too few practitioners to meet the very real need.

“There are already 40% fewer suppliers than in 2000, and 40% fewer people benefiting from the service than there were in 2000 and the situation is getting worse. It is the poorest and most vulnerable in society who will suffer if inadequate provision is maintained. Women especially, who are often vulnerable, both economically and to abuse on divorce or separation, need legal aid to protect them. Without adequate legal aid funding, the negative effect of family breakdown on children will be much greater.”

Research commissioned by the campaigning family lawyers group reveals that a significant proportion of remaining lawyers who undertake legal aid work are planning to quit.

“The supplier base of those able and willing to deliver a quality service is already fragile. It is no exaggeration to say that if these reforms go through, it will result in the total collapse of the system with devastating effects on those vulnerable members of the public it was designed to protect.”