Restrictions on Legal Aid in Family Law Cases in England and Wales: creating a necessary barrier to public funding or simply increasing the burden on the family courts?

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Abstract

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) resulted in significant cuts to the availability and scope of legal aid in family law proceedings. Some four years after the cuts were implemented, there has been a great deal of research about their devastating impact on vulnerable groups and individuals. This paper considers the other victim of the cuts, the family court itself. It is currently bulging under pressure from both an increase in applicants who have been forced to represent themselves in family proceedings and also from a rise in applications for injunctions linked to domestic violence. This paper will draw on case law to demonstrate that the reforms implemented through LASPO have seemingly only succeeded in passing the burden from one publicly funded agency, the Legal Aid Agency, to another, HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The family court system is currently at breaking point and further government review is urgently needed if people are going to be able to continue to use the system effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-152
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Volume41
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

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