Rushed timetable will spell justice disaster, say family lawyers

27 Nov 2006

Family law group Resolution believes that the speed of proposed legal aid reform will leave many of the UK’s most vulnerable people without access to justice.

In a letter to the Lord Chancellor, the group urges him to reconsider the current timetable for reform, which it believes is ‘impossibly tight’ for delivering a viable legal aid system.

Resolution represents 5000 family lawyers, 2700 of whom undertake all forms of legal aid work. The group’s 2700 legal aid members work in 1550 legal aid firms, representing the majority of legal aid family contract holders.

The group is concerned that the current level of uncertainty about final proposals for change and the very tight timetable for introducing any changes may lead to more firms deciding to withdraw from legal aid because of the uncertainty and the consequent inability to plan in the short and medium term. This, it believes, would have disastrous results for those needing legal aid services.

In the letter to Lord Falconer, Resolution chairman Andrew Greensmith says that a clear statement of a revised timetable ‘would do much to restore the profession’s confidence in the government’s commitment to ensuring a viable legal aid scheme’.

“We have submitted our detailed comments on the DCA/LSC consultation paper, ‘Legal Aid: a sustainable future’, and we appreciate that the Department and the LSC are currently analysing the large number of responses received,” says Andrew Greensmith.