Family Law Bar Association Warns of Consequences of Civil Legal Aid Cuts
14 December 2010
Ahead of Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke QC MP's appearance
before the Justice Select Committee tomorrow, the Family Law Bar
Association (FLBA), which represents family barristers in England
and Wales, has warned of the potentially dangerous consequences of
the planned cuts to civil legal aid.
Stephen Cobb QC, FLBA Chair, has highlighted domestic violence and
'section 37' cases as two particular areas of concern.
"We recognise the stark challenge which the Government faces in
tackling the public debt. We are supportive of sensible, rational
initiatives which can save money. However, family law touches on
some of the most critical parts of people's lives and
representation should not be lightly removed without proper
consideration of what the consequences might be.
"The FLBA supports and encourages all initiatives - legislative
and otherwise - to protect the victims of domestic violence.
However, under the Green Paper proposals, there will be an
'inequality of arms' in cases involving domestic violence before
the courts - where the alleged victim will be entitled to public
funds, whereas the alleged perpetrator will not be so entitled.
There is a real risk of a surge in the number of allegations, and
possibly cross-allegations, of domestic violence in order to be
able to qualify for public funds.
"Equally worrying is in private law children cases, if a Judge
considers that serious child protection issues arise such that the
threshold for a care or supervision order with respect to the child
may be satisfied, the court may direct the appropriate authority to
undertake an investigation of the child's circumstances under
section 37 of the Children Act 1989. Whilst this investigation
takes place, an interim care order can be made. In effect, this
means that parents could have their children removed, and because
they would not be entitled to legal aid, they would go
Notes to editors:
1. For further information please contact the Bar Council Press
Office on 020 7222 2525.