The latest legal aid statistics published today (30 June 2016) show that the number of mediation assessments are down 14% compared to the same period in 2015.
The statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show that the total number of MIAMs in the period of January to March 2016 stand at 3,384. According to the statistical bulletin, MIAMs are stabilising at around half of pre-LASPO levels and the number of mediation starts, which initially fell by a similar proportion to assessments following LASPO, have recovered somewhat and are now around 60% of pre-LASPO levels.
The statistical bulletin also shows that there were 390 applications for ECF received between January and March 2016. This is over 1/5 higher than the number received during the equivalent period of 2015, and the highest in a singular quarter since October - December 2013.
Family had the second highest (109) ECF applications received for the latest quarter after immigration (156). Of the 109 applications 46 were granted, 39 refused and 21 rejected. Two application are still awaiting determination and one was withdrawn. Overall just over half of all inquest applications were granted. Speaking in response to today’s legal aid statistics, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution said:
'We believe everyone should have access to justice, and remain concerned that LASPO continues to put this at risk for thousands of separating couples.
The legal aid statistics out today tell a very clear story: the government’s strategy is not working. The number of mediation assessments is down 14% compared to the same period in 2015, showing that fewer people are getting help to resolve matters out of court, contrary to the government’s stated objectives.
Of course, the numbers are only part of the story, and regardless of how many people are accessing mediation, the outcomes for those families are absolutely crucial. Today’s statistics show that mediations that result in agreements are 62% of what they were before LASPO.
This shows that not only are fewer people accessing legally-aided mediation, but within those reduced numbers, couples are less likely to reach agreement as a result. This may well be because they are now not receiving the support and reassurance that comes from getting independent legal advice during and after the mediation. Despite the fact that there is still some limited legal aid available for this support, in the aftermath of the legal aid cuts, I suspect many are not aware of it.The legal aid statistical bulletin is available to download here.
We call on the government to take steps to urgently remedy this, including looking at funding for other forms of dispute resolution, and to immediately carry out the full review into the impact of LASPO that was promised when the reforms were introduced now over three years ago.'