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Legal aid reforms delayed

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The Law Society has welcomed the delay in implementation of new rules governing civil and family legal aid, announced by the Ministry of Justice. The announcement was made in a written statement to Parliament and moves the implementation date from the originally proposed October 2012 to April 2013. 


Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society said:


'We have repeatedly warned that implementation of the proposed changes to legal aid scope and provision by October 2012 was impractical. The Government has taken a sensible decision to defer this deadline. The new timetable is still challenging, given the work required to implement changes of this magnitude.”


The family lawyers organisation, Resolution, has also welcomed the delay. Resolution's Chair David Allison said:


"We welcome today's announcement, and are pleased that Ministers have listened to the very serious concerns expressed by Resolution members and so many others who are at the coalface of supporting families. At the same time, it is important to remember that this is only a delay in implementation, rather than a significant policy change, which is what is actually required.


"Nevertheless, we hope that the Government will take this opportunity to think again about the Legal Aid Bill. We have said from the start of the process that the proposed reforms will have a detrimental impact on access to justice for the most vulnerable people in society; will clog up the courts as a result of more litigants in person; and will not actually save the government a significant amount of money as a whole.


"We know that around 90% of divorce cases are resolved outside the courtroom, but in most cases this can only happen with the support of legal professionals.


"We are therefore looking forward to working with Ministers to ensure that there are real changes to the Bill, rather than simply postponing measures that will take legal aid away from families who need it the most."



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