Extra funding in civil and family legal issues only scratches the surface

Funding provided to charities and legal advice centres in civil and family legal disputes is welcomed by the Law Society of England and Wales, who warned there must be proper investment in the whole legal aid system to provide effective access to justice.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has pledged around £4 million to charities and organisations providing legal advice to people facing civil and family legal disputes.

For litigants in person (parties without representation), the funding will go towards resolving their disputes out of court at an early stage.

“We welcome this extra funding, which will allow civil and family-focused legal charities and organisations to provide support to the public as they seek to resolve their disputes,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“However, this financial backing only goes so far when investment in the legal aid system is so wanting.

“Our legal aid desert maps demonstrate that services are vanishing year on year leaving the public without the expert legal advice needed to resolve their problems. While welcome, this investment is a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

“Litigants in person often require more time and support from the courts, which is likely to slow down the system and increase overall costs. Re-instating legal aid contracts would make a cost-effective contribution to resolving the backlogs in the family courts.

“Restoring early legal advice for family law cases would also mean fewer cases would go to court. Instead, solicitors could assist negotiated settlements, refer clients to mediation and better manage client expectations.

“The family courts are under immense pressure and a thorough investigation should be conducted on the effective operation of the courts, the increase in backlogs and the impact this is having on families having to represent themselves.”

Notes to editors

Read the UK government’s release on the civil and family funding

The funding is administered by the Access to Justice Foundation on behalf of the MoJ

Find out more about our legal aid desert maps

Read HM Courts and Tribunals Services’ management information – May 2022

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