Family Legal Aid – The Fat Lady Sings

The Government announced its decision in respect of the family legal aid fee reforms on Wednesday this week. As a result of me seeming to have to do ever increasing amounts of work just to bring in the same amount of money I have not been able to look at the announcement in detail or to post anything about it. However, the FLBA have issued the following press release which enables me to cheat a bit:

The Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) notes the announcement made today by the Ministry of Justice about changes to the family fee proposals made last December, in particular some limited recognition of complexity in cases. However, it is a matter of regret that the Government has refused further time to the representative groups to consider the underlying data and structure of the changes announced today. The refusal of further time undermines the benefits to be derived from a more collaborative way of working between the Legal Services Commission and its stakeholders,  which the Justice Committee called for in their report on Family Legal Aid Reform, published in July.

 

The FLBA remains concerned that these changes will drive experienced practitioners away from this work, at a time when child protection cases are increasing. Those cases involving allegations of domestic violence, private law disputes and financial cases will simply be uneconomic to undertake. This will deter talented new entrants from doing this important work, which cannot be in the public interest.

I understand that the new scheme represents an improvement on the previous set of proposals, insofar as it recognises some graduation and different types of hearings. But the fundamental concern that this is work which is becoming increasingly unattractive and unviable remains, for all the shifts and tweaks. Still, I have until October 2010  to steel myself to read the proposals, if I can afford ever to take any time off again…

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