Thursday, 23 September 2010
Judicial review: family legal aid tendering
Given the complexity of family law and practice, the provision of legal representation is crucial. The Law Society has applied for a judicial review of the tender process used by the Legal Services Commission for provision of legally aided family law services. The Law Society's skeleton argument may be read here.
The Law Society point out that the outcome of the tender process is a reduction in law firms permitted to provide family legal aid services from around 2400 to 1345. A large number of experienced family lawyers in England and Wales will be precluded from providing essential family legal aid services from 14 November 2010 onwards. This outcome will have serious adverse consequences for effective access to justice for family law clients .... , including some of the most vulnerable groups in society, such as women and young girls who are victims of domestic violence and forced marriage, and children caught up in domestic abuse and care proceedings."
This situation is a disgrace to justice in England and Wales and it is to be hoped that the Law Society are successful in this review and that a more reasonable outcome eventually results. Families simply cannot be expected to represent themselves in serious matters such as care proceedings which could result in children being removed from the family.
See also Solicitors Journal - the judicial review is to be heard by Moses LJ and Beatson J.
Review of family law - The government are conducting a review of family law - see here. Person wishing to contribute to the consultation must do so by 30th September.
Speech by Lord Justice Wall - President of the Family Division - "Is the family justice system in need of review?"