60 days and counting

Have you considered the impact that the withdrawal of Legal Aid for the majority of private law family cases will have?  From April 2013 onwards anyone in the midst of family breakdown not involving carefully defined elements of domestic abuse, who seeks legal advice and is not able to pay their Lawyer's fees will have to represent themselves. 

2013 is the year that Mediation becomes the gateway for people to access information about what they need to do and how to proceed.  From April 2013 Legal Aid will still be available for people who come within the Legal Service Commission eligibility criteria to cover the cost of using mediation to resolve family disputes.  Participating in mediation also means that people who fit the LSC eligibility criteria will then be able to access Legal Aid to cover legal advice from a Lawyer to assist with the mediation process.

People who have the means to pay their Lawyer will still be able obtain advice and representation but as from April 2013 they will also be "expected" to meet a Mediator and consider mediation before issuing Court proceedings.  Whilst no-one is sure how this "expectation" will be applied, Courts across the Country who are already managing their own funding cuts, are no doubt considering strategies to cope with the envisaged increase in self representing people who will arrive at the Court office seeking "advice" on what they should do.

Will the pressure that comes from these changes prove to be the catalyst that will eventually lead people to threaten each other with "Let's go to mediation and sort things out" as opposed to "My Lawyer is going to take you to the Cleaners."

Posted on: 01/02/2013

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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