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Mulholland gets assurances on legal aid

September 11, 2014 11:06 AM

MP for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland, yesterday won assurances from justice minister Simon Hughes that the Ministry will increase support for people having to represent themselves in court.

MP Mulholland expressed concern when the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 went through Parliament that it was restricting access to legal aid. Further concerns have since arisen from across the legal sector that people are having to represent themselves in family courts.

This has led to an increase in the amount of time to take a case through the courts and is having a lasting emotional impact on children seeing their parents spend months in court.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mulholland said:

"The Ministry of Justice's own figures show that more than half of the parties in family courts are now unrepresented by a solicitor. There are concerns from the legal sector that this means that people are not getting fair hearings, and actually hearings seem to be taking longer. What plans has the Department got to review this?"

Justice minister Simon Hughes MP admitted that the Ministry of Justice was "very watchful of what is happening" and went on to say he would now "make further announcements of support to deal with this matter in the very near future."

Commenting afterwards, Mulholland said:

"Access to justice must be ensured for all in a fair and proper way; there are clear concerns from lawyers about families having to represent themselves, due the lasting impact on children and understandably not having all the legal expertise. I therefore welcome the minister's announcement that he will now increase support in this area soon."