"Family Justice System in Yorkshire under threat" says Leeds Family Lawyer

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Local family lawyer Emma Pearmaine has raised concerns on behalf of families in Yorkshire who risk losing access to justice after Government cost-cutting measures threaten to topple the entire family justice system.

The Government has recently announced a consultation into the closure of a number of regional County and Magistrate Courts as part of a review of the family justice system. In Yorkshire, county courts at Barnsley, Goole, Skipton, Pontefract, Keighley and Dewsbury have been identified as potential closure targets. Emma, who is head of the family law team at Leeds-based law firm Simpson Millar LLP, says if the closures go ahead it could have a devastating effect on vulnerable families.

"Very often, families accessing the county courts aren’t in a position to travel great distances throughout the lifetime of their case. "

"Having to add significant travel time and cost to an already stressful situation for vulnerable children and struggling families because their regional court is closed could prove damaging to the very people the family justice system was designed to help."

The news comes at a time when the Ministry of Justice launches a 'comprehensive review' of the family justice system as part of the Government’s extensive cost-cutting strategy.

The review will look at how cases involving children are managed and investigate ways of encouraging further use of alternatives to court such as mediation. Whilst this is certainly laudable, mediation is already the first port of call in all cases brought with Legal Aid funding but nonetheless many of these cases still end up proceeding to court.

"There will always be families that need access to court and the potential closure of so many county courts in Yorkshire undermines this very basic right."

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