Posted by Jemma Breban on 15th November 2013

Domestic abuseAs we approach the end of 2013, a year of enormous change, we look back at the impact of the reforms that came into force on the 1st of April and the ways in which we and other organisations have adapted to aid some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Following the reforms to Legal Aid introduced in April 2013, we been hearing more and more accounts of the most vulnerable members of society being deprived of representation or legal advice and assistance, simply because they no longer meet a rigid criteria set down by the Government.

The implementation of legislation in 1999 set a forum within which a number of fundamental principles, identified by Lord Woolf in his report “Access to Justice”, were introduced. These included, offering appropriate procedures at a reasonable cost and being responsive to the needs of those who use the justice system. This meant that, in times of crisis, people in need of specialist advice and assistance, could access justice fairly and expeditiously.

Sadly, with the recent reforms, this recourse to justice is no longer obtainable, as of right, and those affected are very often the most vulnerable members of our society – and predominantly – if indirectly – children.

Well known charities such as Rights of Women and Women’s Aid are actively campaigning to overcome the problems that have arisen by asking the Government to review the reforms and in particular, to broaden the criteria for funding so that the most vulnerable are able to access Legal Aid.

Some of the problems which have been identified include:

Our response to protecting the most vulnerable and to keeping children at the centre of our action and advice includes:

We are continuing to advance our campaign against the reforms so please check back for further updates.

If you would like to share any of your own experiences on this topic please share them below or send us a tweet @TheFamilyLawCo

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