Legal Aid for Family Mediation goes unclaimed as the Courts are clogged with cases

10/10/2013

The reforms to legal aid implemented in April 2013 are taking their toll on the courts and families across the country. Recent reports in the national press have highlighted the problems, as the courts face increased numbers of applications, whilst referrals to mediation plummet. An article on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, aired on the 8th October, illustrated the chaos.

On April 1st 2013, legal aid provided by lawyers for divorce, separation and child contact issues was withdrawn. The trouble was that the general public were not made aware that legal aid for Family Mediation is still available. So as the courts clogg up with cases, Legal aid is going unclaimed!

 “The government had intended that greater numbers of people would try mediation before making an application to court but the failure to publicise services has had the opposite effect and people are heading straight to court because they do not know what else to do,” says Jane Robey, Chief Executive Officer of National Family Mediation. www.nfm.org.uk

“What the government didn’t see was that lawyers acted as gatekeepers for both mediation and the courts. Now the public is left with few options other than to apply to court, and now more frequently as a litigant in person”.