Legal Aid Cuts to have Significant Impact on Local Community
Five of the city’s leading law firms are combining efforts to remind the local community of significant changes taking place in regards to legal aid.
With effect from 1st April 2013 a change in legislation means that legal aid for many family cases will no longer be available. Legal aid will only be available for divorce, financial matters, and children cases where there is evidence of domestic and/or child abuse. There will continue to be funding for non-molestation and occupation matters.
Five Plymouth based firms of solicitors, Gill Akaster LLP, Nash & Co, Hartnell Chanot & Partners, Woollcombe Yonge and Wolferstans have joined forces to voice concerns about the new changes, and to ensure the local community is kept informed.
The changes come as the government seeks to save around £350 million from the Ministry of Justice’s annual legal aid budget, but could risk many families losing out on receiving vital advice at what can be a tumultuous and stressful period.
There are concerns that missing out on advice at such a crucial time may leave families financially insecure and child-parental relationships undermined, as well as limiting access to justice. An example of this would be a spouse who has spent many years caring for the children and family home to the detriment of their career, thus meaning they would have little or no income or assets of their own. Their spouse however has had the opportunity to build up their income and assets and this may lead to a significant power imbalance whilst trying to negotiate for both their futures and that of their children.
The five firms are working together to ensure the general public is aware of this new legislation, whilst also demonstrating their commitment to supporting the local community at this difficult time.
Gloria Dyer, a family specialist at Gill Akaster LLP, commented: “This change in legislation has seen some substantial opposition nationally and will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the local community.
“Through this time we will endeavour to support those in need as much as possible, and ensure they receive the best possible advice and guidance.”
There remain avenues open to assist people, namely mediation, collaborative law and of course funding remains in family law for parties where there is evidence of domestic violence. People may also wish to consider alternative means of funding proceedings if they no longer meet the criteria for legal aid. All five of the firms are on hand to discuss and expand upon the options available with those who need their assistance.
The five legal firms have worked closely together since collaborating for the benefit of the Freedom Programme in 2012, supporting victims of on-going abuse.