Legal News | Legal Aid Changes Could Lead To Problems

As of the beginning of next month (April), the cut-off point to get legal aid will be a household income of £32,000 and those between £14,000 and £32,000 will have to undergo a detailed means test.

This will mean in practice that it will be rare for anyone with an income of more than £20,000 to qualify, which, says the Law Society, means 650,000 cases will no longer qualify, including 20,000 employment cases and 200,000 in family law.

At the moment, workers can get help with preparing for employment tribunals and representation at an appeal tribunal. There were 20,203 employment cases started during the 2011/12 tax year, with a further 6,842 new employment cases and appeals during this one.

However, from April, all help will be removed for people who do not qualify, except for discrimination cases, but even in such cases, people bringing claims will only have access to telephone help rather than via face-to-face meetings.

Family law cases will suffer the most and it has been estimated that up to 60 per cent of cases such as separation, divorce, child custody or financial issues will no longer be on legal aid by next month.

The legal profession is up in arms at the removal of legal aid, arguing that the move will end up costing the taxpayer more, as rather than cases being solved during early stages, they are more likely to escalate and become more expensive to solve.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London