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Legal Aid: Cuts will increase 'DIY litigants'

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The Government's proposed cuts to legal aid will increase the number of people having to represent themselves in court and cause severe delays, the Bar warns today.

In addition, the Bar's formal response to the Government said the cuts will have a "devastating effect on access to justice".

The chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, Stephen Cobb QC, said the lack of public funding for those in need will cause a surge in DIY litigants that will cause "gridlock" in the courts, and that the proposals will "cost more than they save".

Cobb called the cuts "crude and brutal".

Sir Nicholas Wall, the president of the Family Division, called the proposals "very detrimental" during a hearing of the Justice Committee.

There is particular concern that those in need of criminal or family law advice will not be able to afford a solicitor and therefore be denied access to justice.

Sir Nicholas said that although legal aid will still be available for those suffering from domestic violence, the wider problem of domestic abuse will not be covered. The proposed definition of domestic violence may mean those suffering from emotional or financial abuse will excluded from obtaining publicly funded legal advice.

The criticisms from the Bar coincide with the launch of Sound Off For Justice, the Law Society's campaign to preserve legal aid and access to justice for all. The campaign is supported by actress and human rights campaigner, Joanna Lumley.

Lumley said "everyone has a right to be heard" and that "justice is only just if it is available to everyone".

Related articles:

Sound Off For Justice

What is domestic violence? (Findlaw)

More information about legal aid (Findlaw)

Find a solicitor in your local area (Findlaw)

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