News Brief: Legal aid, a report, a busy blogger and a rant

A round-up of  family law-related happenings:

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill continues its inexorable progress through parliament, although both the Law Society Gazette and Solicitors Journal reported that it took a considerable mauling when it had its second reading in the House of Lords on Monday. This prompted justice minister Lord McNally to promise ‘to listen’ to the 'strong concerns' raised, particularly in relation to domestic violence and clinical negligence, although he will not respond in detail until the bill reaches its committee stage, which will begin in the last week before the Christmas break, at the earliest.

On the subject of legal aid, Mark Keenan of Divorce-Online has today posted that, according to his calculation following a freedom of information request of the Legal Services Commission, 75% of divorces are paid for by the state under the Legal Help scheme. If true, then this gives an indication of how huge will be the effect of the abolition of Legal Help for most family work. Quite how all these people will proceed without Legal Help I don't know. Mark speculates that this is the reason for the Co-op entering the family law market, but even so there could be an awful lot of people who simply won't be able to afford to divorce, with all of the implications that entails.

Ofsted has published its annual report. You can find it here, either as a shiny Zmags interactive document complete with embedded video, or as a more conventional PDF. I have not read the report (it runs to 182 pages), but the headlines it created have been varied. The Telegraph reported that: "Children are still at risk of "significant harm" in almost one in five council areas as social workers struggle to cope with mounting workloads, according to Ofsted", while Children & Young People Now took a different tack, telling us that: "Inadequate ratings handed to settings and local authorities are sparking improvements across children's services, Ofsted has concluded in its annual report". Meanwhile, Community Care informed us that: "Ofsted has praised the work of adoption panels after the Family Justice Review recommended they should be scrapped".

Turning to the blogs, Marilyn Stowe has been her usual busy self. Not only has she been overseeing the building of a new office in High Holborn (which will be fully open and operational from the beginning of January), she has also found time to write a post on the recent pre-nuptial case Z v Z, and another on Meeting “reasonable needs”: matrimonial v non-matrimonial assets. Otherwise, fresh from creating a new website for the FLBA, Lucy Reed has published her latest rant, with the somewhat unlikely subject of section 20 of the Children Act. Head over to Pink Tape for the details.


  1. According to Ken Clarke, it seems like the implementation of the legal aid reforms has been put back to April 2013. Hopefully that will give time for the more onerous aspects of the proposed changes to be reworked and toned down.

  2. Yes, that's correct. We will have to see whether the delay means any toning down!


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