In our last blog we asked if the new Single Family Court will cope with the surge in the number of parents representing themselves at court.
Since then the judiciary – in written evidence to the government about changes to public funding – warned that the rise in litigants in person is taking its toll on the court system. In its report to government, the judiciary stated: 'in private law family cases, legal representatives are now described by judges as “a rarity”'.
The report added: 'In the family courts the judicial perception is that private law appointments where both sides are unrepresented typically take in the region of 50% longer'.
I wonder if the judges had access to the following court data secured via the freedom of information act? It shows that since changes to public funding – when the bulk of legal aid was removed from family lawyers – parents without lawyers are now the de facto majority of litigants at child-related court proceedings.
Away from child-related proceedings, family court data for Ancillary Relief cases shows legal representation holding steady compared to pre-LASPO. It will be interesting to see whether data for 2014 shows a similar tend towards self-representation. This could prove far more incendiary for the MoJ given the image of stay-at-home-mums asking despairing judges what 'pension splitting' means.
This article was originally published on the Lawyer-Supported Mediation website and has been reproduced here with permission of the copyright owner.