Sunday, October 17, 2010

Speculation is rife

There are two big news stories due this Wednesday, and the Guardian/Observer thinks it has the answers on both.

The first, and most important, story is the Government's spending review, and its effect on legal aid. Yesterday the Guardian claimed that 'leaked documents' show that the Ministry of Justice will lose 30% of its budget in the review, and that as a result legal aid in divorce and family cases will be slashed. Unfortunately, the report is somewhat thin on detail, saying only that "ministers intend to limit the amount of legal aid to people going through complex marital disputes and divorce cases", but this does seem to indicate that earlier speculation that legal aid for ancillary relief and private law children matters will be abolished may not be far wide of the mark. Clearly, as I have said before, access to justice for all is a luxury that we can no longer afford.

The other big story due on Wednesday is, of course, the Supreme Court decision in Radmacher v Granatino. The Observer today seems convinced that the Court will find against the husband, thereby effectively making pre-nuptial agreements legally binding in England and Wales. Whether they have inside information on this one is not stated, but according to Solicitors Journal 'significant differences between the justices' were the reason for the decision being delayed, so it seems that the outcome was a close-run thing. Despite what the Observer says, I shall not, therefore, be betting on whether or not the appeal fails, and if it does what effect that will have upon the legality of pre-nuptial agreements in this country.

Instead, as with the detail of the spending cuts, I shall wait and see.


  1. as a legal aid trainee (i know i am cutting off my nose to spite my face) I have yet to have it explained to me how a divorce funded by the taxpayer is "access to justice" anyway. Why as a taxpayer should I have been funding peoples life style choices for the last however many years i have been working? (mature trainee)!!! Similarly the number of contact cases which are funded by the tax payer when the legal aid fundee is an undeserving candidate who has never in their life tried to get a job (most of whom actually earn far more than me in benefits and housing benefit etc) while the opposing party is low paid but not eligible for legal aid and can't afford to even think about legal representation is shocking. While dunding should not be cut it does need to be seriously overhalled. Access to justice my foot!!

  2. You wouldn't be a Daily Mail reader by any chance?

  3. No and I have ONLY developed this opinion in the last 18m prior to which I wanted to champion the underdog...The reality is this is not how it happens.

  4. Access to justice covers justice in all its forms, including divorce and family law. Whether any particular person should be entitled to legal aid is another matter.

  5. If you can answer the question why divorce is a "justice" issue then i would be greatful. With the exception of DV/Forced Marriage getting married and divorced is a lifestyle choice so why should that choice be funded by anyone else?

  6. If it involves the law, which it does, then it is a justice issue. I don't think many people who have been through it would call divorce a 'lifestyle choice'. Besides, for many (including, of course, the children involved) it is not their 'choice' anyway.


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