It’s human nature to look out in the Budget for those parts that will directly impact on you. In legal circles, there is a lot of talk of reviewing the Legal Aid system and the impact that the massive reduction in the availability of legal aid from April 2013 onwards has had upon the Court’s ability to provide access to justice. As a lawyer, I therefore look in the Budget for any mention of legal aid or funds for the Ministry of Justice. Nothing.
Law Society vice-president Christina Blacklaws said significant cuts to Ministry of Justice funding continue to affect the legal sector.
“The 40% real cut in funding for the Ministry of Justice from 2011 to 2020 was notably absent from the Chancellor’s statement. These cuts are having a real impact on the ability of the most vulnerable in our society to access justice,” she said.
The legal aid system was set up in the post-war years as part of the welfare state. Just as access to free healthcare and education were key rights, so was access to justice. However, funding for the justice system is at the opposite end of the scale to the NHS. Withdrawal of funding for legal representation has not been met with increased funding to ensure access to justice in other ways. I frequently advise people about how to resolve their legal issues without a lawyer and how to represent themselves in court. However, the Courts have been under increasing pressure and strain in recent years to assist litigants in person who do not understand the legal process. The government hoped that the gap would be bridged by volunteers giving free support and advice but the demand is simply too high to manage.
Throughout my career, I have wanted to provide a high-quality client-centred service to all, regardless of financial or other circumstances. It was with some regret that I had to give up my legal aid practice when I set up my own firm in 2016. I strive to provide a high-quality value for money service, accessible to all . In the following ways:-
- I give free initial advice over the telephone.
- I charge a fixed fee of £120 for each meeting. Each meeting goes on for as long as we need to properly discuss your case and advise.
- My costs are transparent in that I charge a range of fixed fees for each aspect of your case so that you know what to expect.
- You can instruct me on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- You can choose whether to instruct me to deal with every aspect of your case or decide which parts you can deal with yourself.
- We can set up a payment plan so that you pay your costs by a fixed monthly amount.
- For certain types of cases, we can set up a client credit agreement.
About the author
Ann McCabe is a solicitor and founder of Ann McCabe Solicitors. She qualified as a solicitor in 1993 and has specialised in family law ever since. She has worked in Newcastle under Lyme since 1994.
Phone 01782 627589 for free initial advice.