In an effort to cut the legal aid bill in England and Wales by £350m a year, the funding availability has now greatly reduced, with these changes coming in from April 2013.
The restrictions in family law matters, such as divorce and custody battles, will most greatly impact on our clients.
We expect this to come as a surprise to many people in the coming months, as services that would have previously been funded no longer will be.
These changes apply to all Solicitors, but some firms will continue to offer Legal Aid services in the limited circumstances that this remains available (typically cases involving domestic violence).
The Government discussions suggested that more people could represent themselves throughout divorce proceedings, a route which we consider will leave individuals at a disadvantage during stressful and emotional times. In the alternative, they suggested that there may be charities able to assist.
We believe that, as solicitors, we should also work to ensure that legal services are as accessible as possible.
We are offering free of charge appointments with our family lawyers at our Loughborough office, to help clients understand their choices. If Legal Aid may be available elsewhere, we will bring this to their attention. If not, then we have put in place provision to ensure that options are available to those who need access to legal services.
If you need access to family legal advice, including divorce and child matters, speak with us. There is no charge at all for initial meetings and ongoing legal advice is not as costly as people often expect. See our website for details of our Fixed Fee divorce services, and we will be posting further details of our low cost access to legal services in the future.
Leanne is a Chartered Tax Adviser, specializing in advising on UK tax matters but also including overseas tax as needed. Leanne is head of Taxation Services at EHL Solicitors in Leicester.
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