Champagne corks may have been popping in Chancery Lane last night, but the success of the Law Society in its challenge to the Legal Services Commission’s family tender process is no more than a small victory in a war that cannot be won.
As the UK Human Rights Blog states, the decision "may only serve to delay the inevitable ... with the system of legal aid under enormous budgetary pressure". They go on: "The LSC may simply redo the tender, correcting the defects identified by the High Court. And the result may be still be to restrict family legal aid significantly."
But that is probably the best scenario. It could be far worse. The UK Human Rights Blog also point out Sir Nicholas Wall's recent prediction that legal aid for private law children proceedings may be abolished. Add to that the earlier report that legal aid is likely to be removed for ancillary relief, and there could be hardly any private law legal aid work left for family lawyers.
Far from toasting victory, legal aid firms should be facing up to a future that may be far grimmer than anyone could have imagined only a few months ago. As for access to justice for all, that is clearly a luxury that we can no longer afford.