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Legal aid update: Family advocacy | Crime: legislation under scrutiny | Exceptional funding scheme

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21 July 2015

Law Society responds to criticism of family advocacy

The Law Society president Jonathan Smithers has written to the justice minister in response to comments from the Bar Council and the Family Law Bar Association. He said:

'We are at a loss to understand why the Bar is accusing family solicitor advocates of providing a poor level of service. We can only assume that this reflects the Bar Council and FLBA's self-interest to increase barristers' market share, as a result of falling levels of work following civil legal aid changes.'

'The reality is that those in need of advice often prefer solicitor advocates to barristers. Solicitor advocates provide consistency and can be relied on to know their client's case inside out from the start through to representation in court.'

Read our full reaction

Domestic violence and child abuse evidence requirements

Providers will no longer need to resubmit evidence of domestic or child abuse for legal aid to continue at a final hearing in the same case. The change came into force on 17 July.
Find out more

Criminal legal aid regulations

Legislation under scrutiny following Law Society evidence

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has published follow-up reports on the government's criminal legal aid regulations, after receiving responses from the justice minister Shailesh Vara. The Lords considered a number of concerns raised by the Law Society. The committee remains dissatisfied with the responses, and peers have also requested a debate on the regulations.
Read the follow-up reports

Motion of regret tabled over legal aid cuts

Lord Beecham has tabled a motion of regret over the the government's criminal legal aid regulations. The motion highlights that they were introduced:

  • without a review of the impact and coherence of the cuts to litigators' fees
  • with too little evidence to establish what effect the fee reduction would have

The motion also regrets the government's lack of engagement with the profession and those affected by its reforms. The debate is likely to take place after the summer recess.
The full text can be found on the parliament's website

High Court criticises exceptional funding scheme

In the High Court last week, Mr Justice Collins delivered a critical judgment on the legal aid exceptional case funding scheme. The Law Society welcomed the judgment, which vindicated our long-running concerns about the LASPO changes.
Find out more

New reports highlight LASPO impact on immigration advice

Recent reports highlight problems for refugee families and vulnerable migrants following the LASPO scope cuts. A British Red Cross report calls for legal aid to be restored for refugee family reunion cases, and the Children's Society report illustrates the problems experienced by separated child migrants deprived of legal representation.
Read the British Red Cross report
Read the Childrens Society report

Busting the myths about legal aid

Independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact continues to tackle some of the myths around legal aid. It recently published an article on the myth that legal aid lawyers earn £200 an hour, following a comment by minister of state for justice Lord Faulks.
Read the article

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