The North East’s Top Divorce and Family Law Specialist, Lucinda Connell comments Government figures show that 623,000 of the one million people who previously benefitted from legal aid every year will now be denied access to this aid since the virtual abolition of legal aid on 1st April 2013.
It is anticipated that as a result there shall be a substantial rise in the number of unrepresented parties involved in court proceedings. This is likely to give cause to a number of difficulties, not least ensuring that legal procedural rules are followed. The recent report produced by the Judicial Working Group on Litigants in Person sets out the issues arising from increasing numbers of unrepresented parties, including the problem of vexatious litigants. This is likely to be a significant concern especially in the area of family law where many cases are highly emotive.
The report contains a number of recommendations and urges an urgent review of the information accessible to parties to understand and decide on courses of action open to them and to prepare and present a case in court. In the absence of legal advice and representation, the court forum is beset with pitfalls for those choosing to represent themselves.