Changes to the legal aid system in England and Wales are leading many in the legal profession to expect a rise in the number of people representing themselves in court.
Restrictions have now been placed on the availability of legal aid available to people seeking a divorce or those involved in custody disputes. It is also being restricted in cases involving issues relating to immigration, debt and benefits.
The changes, which came into force at the beginning of April, are an attempt by the UK Government to target Legal Aid financial resource for those who most need it.
However it will lead those who cannot afford a lawyer to consider standing up in front of a judge and representing themselves.
Maura McGowan, chairman of the Bar Council advises the following : “First of all, look and see if you can get advice from a voluntary agency, Citizens Advice or something like that,” and advises those who are unable to acquire legal aid to consider spending a little money on buying some time with a lawyer . “He or she will tell you whether to stop the case, even at that stage, and help provide an outline if you have a case.”
Resolution, a membership group with 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals who deal with family disputes also endorse this advice; and also note that it’s not essential to have a lawyer involved throughout a court case and their advice can be used on occasion as required but adding that working out a budget and agreeing it in your first meeting, then making use of legal help for the initial stage of a case then returning at a later stage.