In April 2013 fundamental changes were made to legal aid following the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
Since those changes, the landscape for the provision of legal aid has changed beyond all belief and recognition and the figures from the first year of civil justice reforms show that access to civil legal aid has fallen by more than half and some categories of law have already become almost entirely inaccessible for state funding.
In particular, in 2013/14 there were 1,600,765 cases granted legal aid for representation and or legal advice, this is down by 504,856 in comparison to the year 2012/13.
Of that number, 280,445 in 2013/14 were for civil cases and from that number only 132,436 were for the provision of family law related legal advice.
In relation to family cases, this is down by 200,948 for the year 2013/14, the biggest percentage fall by far of all the civil categories that once upon a time legal aid would have been available for.
Of course the Legal Aid Agency and the Ministry of Justice suggested that certain cases would come back into scope and so be offered legal aid and assistance still subject to an “Exceptional Case Funding” application being made pursuant to section 10 of LASPO.
The latest statistics published by the Legal Aid Agency show that out of 125 applications made for the provision of exceptional case funding for family cases only 4 were successful between April 2013 to June 2014, and the reasons for the granting of funding in those particular cases remain generally unknown.
Legal Help and Legal Aid in relation to family law related matters is still available in the following types of case:
- Family mediation to resolve disputes about children and finances on a relationship breakdown
- Social Services being involved with your children
- Injunctions against a violence or abusive partner or family member
- Other family problems if you or your child have suffered or are at risk of violence or abuse
- Forced marriages
- If your child has been or is about to be taken out of the country without your consent
- Some High Court proceedings about the welfare of your child
- If you have been served with proceedings under the “Hague Convention”.
At Kyles Legal Practice, we continue to help individuals in cases concerning family matters wherever and whenever we can and continue to make applications for exceptional case funding and applications for Legal Help and Legal Aid for those that we believe satisfy the eligibility criteria.
Should you require legal advice and help upon your family law related case then for a free, no obligation and in confidence opportunity to discuss your circumstances with one of our family law experts then please contact our North Shields office in the first instance to make an appointment upon 0191 257 1051.