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Courts could have to fund legal representation

Sir James, said: “Each is a private law case in which the father is seeking to play a role in the life of his child, who lives with the mother. In each case, the problems with which I am faced derive from the fact that whereas the mother has public funding, the father does not.”Legal Aid has not been available for most family law cases since April 2013. It is still available for cases where domestic violence is alleged and in other ‘exceptional’ circumstances, which include where a lack of legal aid could breach Human Rights Legislation. These changes came about as a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
The Judge went on to comment that there had been a ‘drastic reduction’ in the number of cases in which either one or both parties are represented.  Since the legal aid cuts were introduced, only nine exceptional funding applications had been successful up to March 2014, a figure which Sir James said must ‘surely be at a greater level’.
In his conclusion, Sir James said that in some instances the court may decide that certain activities should be paid for by HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).
In one of the three cases he said: “The cost [of representation] will, in my judgement, have to be borne by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service. HMCTS will also have to pay the cost of providing the father with an interpreter in court. If the father is still unable to obtain representation, I will have to consider whether the cost of that should also be borne by HMCTS.”If you think you may be eligible for exceptional case funding then contact us for advice – call 01302 320621. 

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