November 29, 2018
As of 1st April 2013 the Government will reduce the legal aid bill by £350million and this will have a considerable impact on family law. This means that people who may have been entitled to legal aid will no longer benefit from this and will be forced to pay their own legal fees following these changes.
The implications of this are that for many people forced to attend court for divorces, children and financial proceedings they may have to do so without having a solicitor by their side.
We have recently advised a client who came in to see us about some financial proceedings where they represented themselves without any legal advice. The client ended up with a less than satisfactory outcome causing great financial loss. Regrettably, we were unable to assist the client because the final decision had been made.
Without knowing your legal rights and the law, many people will find themselves in a similar position because the Courts and Judges are not there to give advice.
We fear that the potential outcome following these changes will mean that the Courts will be inundated with people trying to represent themselves and this will delay matters further. Furthermore people will no doubt get frustrated and annoyed and, as a senior Judge stated, “it will lead to people taking the law into their own hands."
What the Government has done is to pledge additional funds for mediation services, as they believe that this should be an alternative way of resolving disputes rather than applying to the Court. Although this method of dispute resolution may work for some, it is not suitable for everyone. We do believe that this will assist in some cases where the parties are willing to negotiate and are amicable to one another, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
We believe that solicitors should offer their services on a fixed fee basis where possible to assist those going through a difficult time both emotionally and financially. Solicitors should also offer to deal with cases on a ‘Sears Tooth Agreement’ which involves the client signing an agreement at the beginning of the case confirming that the solicitor can recover their fees in full before the client receives any settlement that is awarded.
Pudsey Legal considers each case on its merits and offers a fee package to suit the individual circumstances. This can include anything from fixed fees, fee capping, agreed hourly rates and we can also offer flexible payment terms.