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Casualties of Legal Aid Changes

(60 Posts)
Collaborate Thu 13-Jun-13 11:47:18

I'm going to start posting in this thread cases that previously I would have been able to take on as a solicitor, but which now I can't (at least not under Legal Aid) due to the new rules that say unless you're the victim of DV (verifiable strictly only as set out in the rules), or you're a parent in care proceedings, or a child is at risk (verifiable child protection concerns), you won't get Legal Aid for family proceedings at all. Unlawful child abduction is the other exemption.

Client on the phone this morning in tears. Father won't return the child. It's child abduction, but he's on the birth certificate so he has parental responsibility so it's not unlawful. No domestic violence (at least not to the client), and although she feels he's a risk to the child, that's based on how he behaves towards the other children and not due to prior court findings, or social services/police involvement.

She needs to apply for Residence and Prohibited Steps Orders. Court fee is £200. She may be exempt ffrom some or all of the fees, but she works part time and gets tax credits so I'll assume she may have to pay the full fee. I explained that to draw up the application (after seeing her in the office - to include a statement - 3 hours), go to court, issue the application, ask the judge to order the child's return (2 hours), serve the order on father (£150 to process server) and deal with the return date (a date a week later when the father would be able to come to court - around 3 hours work) would cost around £1,500. I would expect a further hour at least spent on phone calls and miscellaneous letters. Total time to be spent 9 hours. After paying expenses £1150 would be for me. This is £958 plus vat. Client very upset and couldn't continue the conversation. This cost represents a reduction of over 50% on my standard privately funded fees. Still the client could not afford it.

Out of interest, I was phoned by a costs draftsman the other day. I had done a claim under Schedule 1 of the chidlren Act for a client in University, claiming from her estranged father who had stopped paying her maintenance when she started at University. She secured an order.

The fixed fee for the work is £703. The notional hourly rate is £54.90. If, when totting up the time you spend, you get 3 times or more the fixed fee, you get paid for the work you do. The fixed fee is so low that it's almost impossible to do it for less than the fixed fee (only really comes in to play if your client buggers off soon after the certificate is granted, and no one would do that).

In this particular case I did 35 hours of work. So fixed fee for me there. Works out at £20 an hour. Out of which I want to get paid, and so does my secretary, receptionist, practice manager, and accounts staff. Normal office overheads apply (rent, lighting, IT, business rates, marketing, insurance etc). We have made a huge loss on this case.

The problem is, it's not an isolated case. Most of our legal aid cases fall into that hole where we do more than the fixed fee, but less than 3 times the fixed fee.

Increasingly I'm feeling that I will have to offer a crapper and crapper service to legal aid clients, otherwise the department may be closed down. Very disheartening.

But what does Grayling care about that?

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Thu 13-Jun-13 15:45:04

It's pretty sobering reading that collaborate. blush

ParsingFancy Thu 13-Jun-13 15:50:14

Thank you for posting this, collaborate.

(Getting on thread so I always see updates.)

Collaborate Thu 13-Jun-13 15:56:37

They may be quite regular.

babybarrister Thu 13-Jun-13 17:38:02

OK - let my raise you one - the new legal aid proposals suggest that there will be a residence test so my client who was dumped back in her home country preventing her being with her children for 6 years would not have received legal aid and would never have been reunited with them .....

ParsingFancy Thu 13-Jun-13 18:49:53

Think this govt would consider that a win-win, bb... angry

mumblechum1 Thu 13-Jun-13 20:30:43

Yep. The last two firms I worked for stopped Legal Aid many years ago because it simply wasn't worth it. I'm sure that then (going back a good 10 years) the hourly rate was about £70, so it's gone down over the years.

Most of my clients funded their fees through soft loans from their parents, bank loans, or making application for interim orders, and in the town I was in (well heeled Home Counties town) there was only one firm out of 9 or 10 which did public funding, and that one had something like a six month waiting list for a first appointment.

Having said that, something did have to change. When I was in Liverpool we had a special department just for slips & falls claims against the council, all publicly funded - it was remarkable how many scousers tripped over the same paving stone in the month before Christmas wink

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 08:55:37

Something needing to change shouldn't have involved making costs so low that you can no longer provide an adequate service, or removing all legal aid for huge swathes of socially important work.

The sign of a just society can be measured by the way it meets holistically the needs of its citizens. Grayling mentions that if he doesn't cut the legal aid budget (£2bn) by £200m, that will have to come off the NHS budget (over £100bn) which would mean that people will die. Well on that logic lets stop spending on anything that isn't the NHS and concentrate all govt spending there. Nothing else must be important, including prosecuting the guilty and defending the innocent.hmm

HeliumHeart Fri 14-Jun-13 09:29:00

Finding this thread fascinating (and horrifying).

As a matter of interest, what is Labour's take on the abolition of Legal Aid? Is there any chance of a volte face at some point?

HeliumHeart Fri 14-Jun-13 09:29:14

(abolition of most of Legal Aid...)

yetanotherworry Fri 14-Jun-13 09:35:14

What do other countries do regarding legal aid?

Babybarrister, do you men that client wasn't UK resident. If so, why should we fund her legal aid rather than her home country?

(disclaimer, I'm not being argumentative, I just don't know how the legal system works as I've been lucky enough never to need it)

HeliumHeart Fri 14-Jun-13 09:45:17

I've been wondering recently why NOBODY seems to care about the cuts to Legal Aid. I (in my ignorance) didn't even register much about it - until I needed it when my H cut off my access to money and wanted a divorce.

Is it because it concerns two sets of the population that the Daily Mail reading middle class don't care about? It's 'people with more money than us' ("fat-cat" lawyers) working on behalf of 'people with less money than us' (benefit claimants, immigrants, the inherently lazy)?

I find it depressing in the extreme.

yetanotherworry Fri 14-Jun-13 09:53:09

Helium, I haven't cared about it simply because it doesn't affect me - there are so many other things such as changes to education and the NHS and other day-to-day life bits and pieces that I don't have time to worry about other things. It doesn't mean I don't care though IYSWIM.

Also, if as you say it affects 'fat cats' and benefit scroungers/lazy people, would it not make sense to have government-funded solicitors rather than paying private firms. Maybe this is too idealistic.

yamsareyammy Fri 14-Jun-13 09:56:41

People will wake up, but it is too late already isnt it?

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 10:07:17

They tried government funded (employed) solicitors in the Public Defender Scheme (or whatever it was then called) a few years back but I understand that they couldn't get the work done as cheaply as when they contracted it out, which is why it was quietly dropped. Googling it now, I see that they've started it up again and there are 4 pilot offices around. If you don't see this rolled out nationwide you'll know that the government can't do it cheaper than the private sector.

this is an extract from an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot over 2 years ago, when Ke Clarke was bringing in swinging cuts:

"Legal aid lawyers are not fat cats, but mangy strays. A legal aid solicitor who has been on the job for several years earns, according to the Guardian's chart of public sector pay, an average of £25,000. That's a lot less than teachers, town planners, probation officers and social workers, and a bit less than prison officers and sewage plant workers earn. I've been going through the likely consequences of the green paper with two solicitors from the legal aid practice Turpin & Miller. Philip Turpin, who runs a firm of 60 people, takes home £42,000 a year. These aren't starvation wages, but they are a fraction of what partners in other areas of law are paid or almost anyone else at this level in either the public or private sector.

The consequence of this phoney war on fat cats is a massive empowerment of the real elites. To understand what these reforms mean, don't just look at the victims: look at the beneficiaries.

John McNulty, who works for Turpin & Miller, gave me examples of cases he's working on which would no longer be eligible for legal aid. An elderly lady has just been evicted from her house because her son forged her signature for the transfer of her property and stole the money. She's now homeless. It looks like a case of negligence on the part of the conveyancing solicitors, who had an obligation to meet her and ensure that she knew what was happening. Her only hope of redress is to sue them. For that she needs a handwriting report, which costs £2,000. Today she can get one; when Clarke's reforms bite, such sloppy solicitors will walk away untouched. Who gains? Fat-cat lawyers of the kind these cuts were supposed to restrain.

A woman was beaten up by police outside a pub, who then claimed she had assaulted them. CCTV evidence shows her account was true and theirs was false. She can't launch proceedings without a CCTV footage report. Today legal aid will pay; when the green paper becomes law, it won't. Who gains? The police, whose abuse of power will meet even fewer impediments.

A prisoner was kept inside for 14 months after he should have been released, because the probation service lost his notes. Today he can get legal aid to pursue a compensation claim for this cock-up. After Clarke has savaged the system, he won't be eligible. Who gains? The incompetent bureaucrats who wrongly deprived a man of his liberty. So much for the government's promise to get the state off our backs.

Clarke's reforms protect landlords who have illegally evicted their tenants. As the government's localism bill creates a powerful incentive for landlords to change their tenants, there's likely to be more abuse and, without legal aid, less protection. The cuts protect businesses and public bodies that unfairly sack their workers or fail to pay their wages, as they annul the free legal advice to which the workers are now entitled. They protect schools that have unfairly excluded disadvantaged or disabled pupils. They protect any profession – structural engineers, surveyors, accountants, lawyers – that can be sued for negligence."

I would love to be employed by the government. I would have longer holidays, and a good pension. I would hope to be paid better than a sewage worker (no disrespect to sewage workers, but I consider a job that requires a degree, professional qualification, and time-served apprenticeship just to get on the first rung of the ladder should be better rewarded). I would love to get a pay rise (haven't seen one of those in the last 7 years) or feel aggreived enough to go on strike when my payrise is 1%, and have the support of some for striking.

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 10:09:56

Last message was getting a bit long.

Don't want to turn this in to a whinge about fees (though they are relevant to access to justice, as if you want your cases to be handled by suitably qualified professionals you have to pay the appropriate rate), but I would reccommend anyone read the barrister's wife blog:

abarristerswife.wordpress.com/

If anyone thinks legal aid solicitors and barristers can be labelled fat cats, or that they deserve to be paid at current rates, I really don't know what to say.

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 10:12:25

It isn't too late. The government have yet to confirm that they will close down a third of criminal solicitors and hand huge contracts to Eddie Stobart.

The removal of most family law from legal aid can be reversed, but there would need to be the political will/impetus to do so.

The petition can be found here:

epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48628

yetanotherworry Fri 14-Jun-13 10:14:50

So how many of the legal aid cases, as the system stands now, are successful?

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 10:16:54

What Grayling is alluding to is the fact that because the government has ring-fenced spending on the NHS, schools and overseas aid other departments are having to make larger cuts to compensate. Ring-fencing the NHS was a political move designed to counter the impression that the Conservatives are anti-NHS and the repeated Labour charge that they intend to abolish it. Personally I do not agree that less funding for the NHS necessarily means more people will die.

what is Labour's take

At the time the changes were passed into law they agreed that the legal aid budget needed to be reduced but suggested this could be achieved by such things as retendering criminal law contracts. It is not clear whether their policy for the next election will be to accept the changes or not.

What do other countries do regarding legal aid

If varies tremendously. Some have very generous systems of legal aid. Some have non-profit making legal clinics for people who can't afford lawyers. Some will fund advice but not representation in civil cases. Some have nothing at all.

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 10:24:57

Latest casualty:

3 years ago a colleague of mine negotaited a contact agreement for a father. It appears to have briken down. The child is now 6.

We can't help him. He'll have to jump through hoops to get to mediation, and can get legal aid to receive advice between mediation sessions, but otherwise there will be no legal advice for him unless he pays.

If mother doesn't go to mediation then he'll have to apply to court. He'll get no assistance in applying. Meanwhile a child isn't seeing his father. Cost to the state of us sorting it out last time was £449. If he applies to court, the cost will be far far greater.

yetanotherworry Fri 14-Jun-13 10:25:48

Thanks prh and collaborate. I have signed the petition but still have lots of questions. I did a quick google search but it doesn't answer my questions.

Is legal aid means-tested? How do we currently decide who is worthy of legal aid and who isn't?

One of the main costs I see listed above is court fees. Wouldn't it make sense to abolish these? A court is a public building and we don't pay to use other public services.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 14-Jun-13 10:29:40

I agree that it's extraordinary the Labour Party have been silent on this issue. It hurts my brain when I think about the scenario Collaborate's client found herself in. The Government have no idea how catastrophic the cuts will be and how expensive it will be in the long term to sort out of the mess following the ineviitable swell of miscarriages of justice not to mention the fact they'll have to rebuild our world-class justice system in the aftermath of it's wanton destruction from the bottom up. They are taking their lead from the word of a former legal assistant to Mr Loophole, who now heads Eddie Stobart's legal team. Even the Daily Mail have started to critisize Grayling's position.

yetanotherworry Fri 14-Jun-13 10:30:17

Collaborate, I don't think the state should always pay for this scenario anyway. This should be sorted out though mediation (is this free) and if not, then the mother should pay for being so bloody-minded. Maybe if more people paid the associated costs, then there would be less need for court costs.

Actually, what I've said doesn't sound sympathetic but do you think that if people had to pick up costs themselves, then they would sort thing out in a better way.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 14-Jun-13 10:31:50

On the issue of court fees, the Government plan to privatise the court system. That means private companies will take them over in order to run them at a profit. Hazard a guess as to whether that will mean court fees will be affordable in the future...

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 14-Jun-13 10:34:14

How is the mother being 'bloody-minded?' Her children haven't been returned to her shock

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 10:35:11

I don't think they would. That's my experience anyway. A mother not wanting contact to take plce will simply not engage.

If people are given rights, the state should provide an effective way to enforce those rights.

Who is to say whether the mother is justified anyway in refusing contact? In many cases she will be. In other cases she will not be.

All legal aid is means and merits tested save for parents in care proceedings.A case will not be funded unless there is a better than 50% chance of success.

yetanotherworry Fri 14-Jun-13 10:35:39

Just give me, I mean collaborates last post where mother may not go to mediation...

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 10:44:19

Yes legal aid is means tested.

There is a remission system that means people on certain benefits or low incomes pay no fee at all whilst others with a low disposable income pay a reduced fee.

Hazard a guess as to whether that will mean court fees will be affordable in the future

Privatising doesn't necessarily mean court fees will change. If it happens (and the government has denied the stories) I suspect the government will continue to set court fees.

How is the mother being 'bloody-minded?' Her children haven't been returned to her

Read it again. The bloody-minded mother is refusing to allow contact - Collaborate's post at 10:24 this morning. This is not the mother mentioned in Collaborate's original post who hasn't had her children returned.

GraduallyGoingInsane Fri 14-Jun-13 10:50:27

I love the Barrister's Wife blog. It's by far the most accurate. I'm a family barrister, my DH is an employment solicitor. The new introduction of fees for the employment tribunal will hit him hard - now if you've been dismissed unfairly, or discriminated against, not only is there NO legal aid but you have to put forward about £1k to the court to have your case heard. Who's got that kind of money when they've just been let go?

My work nowerdays is almost exclusively local authority work. I used to get a lot of private child work, but that's just not funded any more. Real life example - your DC live with your partner post divorce but you get them every second weekend, 1 evening a week, some holidays etc. This is all documented and contracted to. One day your ex partner refuses to bring the kids. You ring, you go over, but nothing. When you catch a glimpse of the children and try to call out for them, your ex says something along the lines of 'watch out get inside its crazy mummy come to kidnap you'. Your kids run away. This used to be a scenario where you could get legal aid to get your children back. Now, unless you can afford what will probably be a few thousand pounds, more if the ex plays silly buggers and drags things out, you're not seeing those kids until either they grow up and look for you, or ex partner changes his mind. Sucks, doesn't it?!

HeliumHeart Fri 14-Jun-13 11:00:37

Gradually - surely another option is that you take them to court and represent yourself? I hope so!

Collaborate Fri 14-Jun-13 11:08:18

That works with the legal sector as much as it would work with the medical sector.

People don't know the law, or the procedure. They don't have the ability effectively to represent themselves. Cases take twice as long to conclude. Courts get clogged up.

HeliumHeart Fri 14-Jun-13 11:19:55

I agree with you in the sense that it's not ideal. And in the sense that many people don't have the ability to do it. But that's not to say that some people would. It's all a complete mess, and I can't imagine quite how clogged up the courts are going to get, and what a total nightmare it's going to be for all concerned. But if my children weren't returned to me, I wouldn't just think "I have no money, there's nothing I can do".

It reminds me of the McKenzie Friend thread a few weeks ago on here. It's not ideal and there are lots of complaints about it (especially from lawyers) but surely it's inevitable that if you remove the crutch that was supporting the poorer sections of society legally, that SOMETHING has to take its place? The system is going to have to mutate, somehow, in order to cope.

I am a complete layman (although somewhat temporarily embroiled in the legal system due to divorce proceedings) and I am horrified. I can't imagine how alarming it must be to those of you working within it.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 14-Jun-13 12:10:42

Oh, ok. Think I missed Collaborate's post.

I'll happily place a small wager on court fees increasing once the courts are privatised, whoever it may be, the Government or otherwise, who fix the fees...

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 12:57:56

You will win. Court fees will increase regardless of whether or not the courts are privatised. They always do!

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 12:59:57

What you mean of course is that fees will go up more if they are privatised than if they are not. That is, of course, impossible to prove one way or the other. We will know how much fees have gone up but will have no way of knowing what would have happened if the courts had not been privatised.

GraduallyGoingInsane Fri 14-Jun-13 15:23:37

Self representation is an option, but it just doesn't achieve the same outcome for many clients. If you are a confident, pragmatic, reasonably intelligent person then you will be on.

Sadly, a lot of people I see are very young, totally shellshocked by the system and often just not that bright. A good judge will try to explain things and give them the best chance, but it won't be easy, it will take twice as long and the right outcome might not be reached.

The legal system is a little bit akin to a septic leg. If you had a septic leg and couldn't access a doctor, the intelligent, calm person would find some disinfectant, maybe cut out the septic section, cover the wound. It might heal ok, but you'd probably have scars. The less able person will be left to rot. That's largely what happens to users of the legal system - alone, they'll be scarred at best.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 14-Jun-13 15:48:58

Gradually Even intelligent, rational people can fail to represent themselves properly given they approach the system from a wholly subjective and emotive position. So many judges already find the job incredibly difficult. Imagine how it'll be when instead of being addressed by two trained and impartial professionals they're faced by a constant string of emotional, ill prepared litigants in person.

GraduallyGoingInsane Fri 14-Jun-13 19:25:27

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes, oh you are absolutely right! I didn't mean to make out that its the thick people who can't work out what is an often impenetrable system. I meant that to make a fist of it you need to be very sharp, and a lot of my clients struggle with basics so would stand no chance. To be honest, I would struggle and I'm a lawyer. If its your own personal circumstances you have very little chance of keeping a clear head and a rational thought process.

I have dealt with a fair few litigants in person on the other side to cases. I try to help out and explain as much as my professional circumstances allow, but its bloody difficult. For the barrister on the represented side, for the judge, for the client who is often brutally cross examined by an ex partner. It's just dreadful.

babybarrister Sat 15-Jun-13 07:42:22

Just coming back to the question about the stranded spouse, firstly the kids are British citizens so presumably they have the right to see their own mother?!
In any event as smarter of interest English Legal Aid has NEVER extended to foreign proceedings so if she had been over here and proceedings were in another country,English legal aid would not cover it.
I have only ever encountered one system in which foreign legal aid paid for English lawyers in English proceedings - and surprise, surprise it was Sweden! Needless to say I was paid far, far more than I would have been if thecae had been paid using English legal aid ....

ChocHobNob Sat 15-Jun-13 09:59:59

Court fees rise on 1st July.

nennypops Mon 17-Jun-13 21:55:24

Do people realise that under the residence test, a baby under the age of 1 wouldn't qualify for legal aid? So she couldn't be separately represented in care proceedings, and couldn't take action, say, to enforce a right to medical treatment.

nennypops Mon 17-Jun-13 22:04:08

Another example I heard about recently. It concerned a mother who had to leave her home with her child due to serious domestic violence. Child has learning difficulties for which the council was doing the absolute minimum. Mother couldn't work due to having to look after dc, and was renting. Under the old rules, the mother would have been entitled to legal help to appeal to the special needs tribunal and could have secured proper support. Under the new rules, she doesn't qualify because notionally she has "disposable capital" in the shape of her interest in the family home. However, she has no chance of selling it or raising a loan on it because she'd need her soon-to-be ex-husband's consent, and he is claiming that he should get the lot.

So we are in an Alice in Wonderland world where the law says she has disposable capital despite the fact that everyone, including the Legal Aid Agency, knows she has no chance of disposing of it. And it's no good saying she should do the case herself, she will get nowhere unless she has independent expert evidence, which she can't possibly pay for.

So a child suffers whilst Cameron's friends carry on merrily avoiding tax. But it's OK, we had enough money for Thatcher's funeral.

financialnightmare Mon 17-Jun-13 22:08:33

I would have been entitled to legal aid, but am not now.

I am divorcing: Ex-husband earns over 70k. I earn 25k. He is refusing to leave former marital home, or give me any money for it. Hasn't paid any maintenance or given me any money - we had massive joint savings. He's spend it all on holidays with his girlfriend.

He has an expensive lawyer and accountant.

What can I do? I am defending myself, desperate to be able to own a house of my own (currently renting a cramped flat). But so far, the Judges keep looking down their noses at me and telling me to get legal advice.

I've been to solicitors - they have quoted me between 10k and 50k. I can't pay it! I can't even get a loan - and what would be the point?

Husband has won everything. I'm totally shafted.

Solicitors have been really helpful - giving up free time to me and being really kind. But they can't afford to help me!

It's shit. I feel like I've thrown my life away. I got an excellent degree from a great university and I'm now middle aged and living on tax credits.

Sorry for whining. blush But it's shit.

nennypops Mon 17-Jun-13 22:27:11

This seems a good point to ask people go sign the petition against the proposed changes - epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48628. Currently at 92,000 and 100,000 are needed to try to force a debate.

Collaborate Wed 26-Jun-13 11:59:45

Another one.

Client just popped in to the office. Husband tried to strangle her. She's had nothing to do with him since, and now wants a divorce. She doesn't work.

She won't get Legal Aid because the violence was more than 2 years ago (6 years in her case). So she'll have to pay (she can't afford it as she's not working, act for herself (he still terrifies her) or stay married.

Thanks Chris Grayling.

Noregrets78 Wed 26-Jun-13 23:31:58

From an outsider - what a fascinating thread. Had no idea of all the implications of these cuts.

PattyPenguin Thu 27-Jun-13 19:19:21

Is it worthwhile for anyone coming into contact with people in situations like this to gently persuade them to write to their MP outlining their plight? Maybe even helping with the wording if there's time (which there often isn't, I'm sure).

I just think perhaps MP's should a) be aware of the consequences for real people of the decisions they've made and the things they've voted for or b) have ammunitition to argue for change.

MooseBeTimeForSpring Thu 27-Jun-13 19:43:53

I'm horrified to read this but not surprised. Until 2 years ago I was a family law solicitor in a cathedral city. People assume that being a lawyer is a stable career. It isn't. I was made redundant twice in three years.

I'm glad I got out of it when I did. Friends in the same city are being made redundant.

I imagine a lot of people on here don't know how much it costs a local authority to begin proceedings to take a child in to care. Perhaps Collaborate or BabyBarrister could confirm the current fee?

Collaborate Thu 27-Jun-13 20:14:01

Isn't it around £2000?

TillyTully Tue 09-Jul-13 14:31:48

What can I do. My ex partner is mentally unstable and has tried to kill himself in the past. I don't want him near our son. He has told me openly that he will make sure I won't have my son for long. No proof of this though or his mental abuse against me. Trouble is, he is from a very wealthy family who are covering his legal costs. I have no money. I'm so scared of losing my child and there isn't one person who can help me! What am I supposed to do. Is there anyone who can offer advice?

Collaborate Tue 09-Jul-13 16:21:23

Go to social services with your concerns.if they agree your child is at risk you may be eligible for LA.

CountingClouds Thu 11-Jul-13 10:33:18

I think this is a very one sided debate. Why should I, a tax payer who just manages to feed my family go hungry, just so someone can have a free divorce?

Or why is is automatically assumed the mother has the right to have the child and not the father. I have known a couple of men who were denied access to their children because the 'mothers' knew how to play the legal aid system and the working fathers were unable to afford lawyers.

It is my experience that legal aid, abused and was abused, by many more people and lawyers than it ever helped.

The solution is not to take food/clothes etc out of my families budget and throw it into a legal black hole. Represent yourself, use mediators, sort it out with the other parent, take responsibility for the situation you have created and stop expecting others to pay.

babybarrister Thu 11-Jul-13 11:45:31

I wrote to my MP again about the stranded spouse case [above] which would not be eligibale for legal aid if the residence test is brought in.

He stated:

"The case that you have highlighted does seem to be particularly complex and very sad, however, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on an individual case " shock
blah, blah blah [continues not answering point about what this actual real person could now have done in her circumstances ....]

He did emphasis in his previous letter to me though that he is a Government Whip, so that's alright then!

babybarrister Thu 11-Jul-13 11:45:45

"eligible!"

Collaborate Thu 11-Jul-13 12:39:56

Counting clouds: is it too much to ask that government policy is based on compassion? That we can judge the government based on how it looks after the most disadvantaged?

You claim that your family will go hungry if people get legal aid. That's absurd, and where you lost the argument, and moral authority, in my view.

Collaborate Thu 11-Jul-13 12:55:53

Father just been on the phone. Denied contact to his children for no apparent reason. Out of work, so can't pay for advice.
No legal aid. Must either represent himself through the minefield of court proceedings, with absolutely no assistance whatsoever, or accept that his relationship with his children is broken for ever.

CountingClouds Thu 11-Jul-13 20:50:04

Collaborate - I think you are an example of the ignorant majority who doesn't know how hard life is on the bread line, has to make ends meet, shopping in charity shops, and occasionally visiting food banks! Would be nice to have more time with the kids but I have to work, so get really angry when the rich middle class expect money to 'compassionately' support their domestic squabbles. Sort it out, dont expect me to pay for it.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Thu 11-Jul-13 21:07:40

Counting Clouds - It's unlikely you are a net contributor of tax, do you get child benefit? do you get tax credits?

Noregrets78 Thu 11-Jul-13 22:44:42

counting clouds meow what's got your goat?! I'm all for people supporting themselves, and am currently in well paid, full-time employment, and paying a fortune for legal advice. However... solicitors cost a fortune, and there are a lot of people who simply cannot afford legal advice. The issues being raised her are not domestic squabbles, they are really huge problems, which mean people may lose contact with their children due to the lack of legal aid.

Collaborate Fri 12-Jul-13 00:21:36

Rich middle class qualifying for Legal Aid? And you call me ignorant?? Mothers working full time receiving tax credits usually don't qualify. A client of mine was recently refused Legal Aid as she earns £650 a month and takes £200 a month from her sons for their keep. Denied Legal Aid.
So where does your wealth of knowledge come from? The Daily Mail doesn't count.

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