Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Resolution ‘disappointed’ at unapologetic MOJ response on legal aid cuts


Family law organisation Resolution expressed disappointment at the “bullish and unapologetic” response from Government to the critical report from the Justice Select Committee on the legal aid cuts.

Resolution has consistently worked to raise awareness of the impact of the legal aid cuts on the people who use the family justice system, from increased numbers of litigants in person through to many domestic violence victims being unable to access legal support due to restrictive evidence requirements.

Resolution chair Jo Edwards comments:

“We’re disappointed to see the bullish and unapologetic response from Government to the criticism rightly levelled at the Ministry of Justice by the Justice Select Committee report on LASPO. The response fails to acknowledge at all the seriousness of the problems caused by the legal aid cuts and the very significant impact on families struggling with separation.”

“As practitioners, we see daily the problems caused by the legal aid cuts, and fully agree with the Justice Select Committee’s assessment that an urgent and comprehensive review needs to be undertaken. While there have been some welcome concessions recently, such as widening the domestic violence evidence requirements, much more needs to be done, quickly, to protect access to justice for the vulnerable.”

“Suggesting that the exceptional case funding scheme is operating as parliament intended ignores the many cases in which funding has been refused, despite judges’ strong protestations to the contrary. The government cannot continue to resist suggestions that there should be a full and immediate impact assessment of the reforms. We strongly advocate, at the very least, that the Government take heed of the Committee’s recommendation that legislation be drafted to protect vulnerable people from being cross-examined by the person who abused them, which is tantamount to a perpetuation of the abuse. That this situation, long legislated against in the criminal courts, should continue to exist in our family justice system is a travesty.”

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