The Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPOB for not-so-short?) was published earlier today. And then rapidly un-published. However, the ever excellent ilegal was quick off the mark and had saved it before it was magicked away again. You can read the bill here.
From a quick whizz through insofar as it is relevant to family law it appears little has changed since the Green paper. No big surprises immediately declare themselves – of note though is the removal of ToLATA from scope – so cohabitees with claims to property are comprehensively stuffed and will have to fall back on the state because they can’t enforce an entitlement their own home – brilliant cost saving that. The definition of “abuse” has been recrafted into something which means – well, who knows what it means. It seems that questions of whether an adult or child is at risk of abuse will be left to civil servants on funding applications since the LSC is being abolished. These are of course the substantive questions in much children litigation which rather begs the question. Other changes include placing the courts power, developed through caselaw, to make orders for one party to contribute to the legal costs of the other on an interim basis – on a statutory footing, rather than as a species of MPS.
As expected all arguments about equality of arms have fallen on deaf ears – only the complainant in respect of allegations of abuse will be entitled to representation and advice. The poor sod on the receiving end of serious serious allegations (whether true or not) will be left to his (most often his) own devices.