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Tackling the rise of litigants in person in family cases

Legal self-help will not on its own plug the gap left by the removal of private law 
family cases from the scope of legal aid, says Steve Hynes

23 November 2012

In July 2009 a meeting of all the main representative groups and others concerned with legal aid policy, including Legal Action Group (LAG), was called by the then legal aid minister Lord Bach. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways of saving cash in the legal aid system. The message from the government was blunt. The legal aid budget was under pressure because of the impact of the recession, the baby Peter case which had led to an increase in child protection cases and the high volume of Crown Court cases.

At the time Lord Bach said he believed that they should have gone further at the meeting and discussed the stark policy options they were faced with. In Bach’s view such was the pressure on the legal aid budget it was likely that the government would have to look at big cut-backs in scope to satisfy the Treasury. Chief among the cuts, which were being discussed in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) he said, was t...

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