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The Family Justice Council has expressed its dismay at the proposals for the funding of legal representation and advocacy in the family justice system that have been set out by the Legal Services Commission consultation paper: Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010.
The Council believes that these proposals would inevitably cause longer delays in the resolution of family cases and an increase in litigants being unable to find lawyers to represent them.
Its response, delivered on Friday, highlights that these "ill-considered" proposals will have an extremely damaging and destructive effect on the Family Justice System, as dedicated and committed lawyers will have little choice but to turn away from publicly funded work. This will make the role of judges harder as less experienced lawyers undertake cases.
The Council challenges the Government for showing "a depressing indifference to the value of quality legal representation and advocacy for those who use the family justice system - from broken marriages, and broken families, and with broken lives".
The Council says it aims to ensure the swift and proper resolution of family cases in the family courts. However, they acknowledge that the system is far from perfect and therefore believe that the proposals in this consultation paper may represent the "straw which breaks the camel's back".
In its broad-ranging criticism of the detailed consultation, the Council states that the proposals, if implemented, "would represent ill-considered administration of public funds."
The Family Justice Council's response echoes that of the Bar Council who have been highlighting the particularly negative impact of the proposals on members of the public from black and minority ethnic communities, and on lawyers from those communities who are most likely to be affected by the fee cuts.