Lawyers, MP's and Trade Unionists join together in the political fight for Family Justice

Dated:

On 3 July 2013, the Family Courts Unions Parliamentary Group (FCUPG), re-launched at The House of Commons, with Emma Pearmaine, Partner, Mediator, Collaborative Lawyer and Head of the Family Law Department and Emma Hopkins Associate Solicitor with Simpson Millar LLP, members of NAPO Family Court Section and the PCS trade unions presenting to MPs, focusing on family issues that affect the MPs’ post bags, spilling over into constituency surgeries.

MPs are now experiencing first-hand the impact of recent Government policy and further proposed policy change through their constituency members and it is acknowledged by many that recent and proposed changes to Family Law are detrimental to the fundamental rights of their constituency members.

Access to Justice – Family law

The Chair of the FCUPG Rt. Hon. Elfyn Llwyd said:

“We must ensure that the Government understands the need for a Family Justice System which is effective as well as thorough and which ensures the best outcome for all families. The Legal Aid budget has been slashed by £350 million and the structure of Family Justice is being reshaped beyond recognition. The need for Parliamentary Groups to monitor and address the impact of Government policy has never been greater."

Further to the cuts to Legal Aid in April 2013, Family Solicitors, CAFCASS Practitioners and Court Staff are all reporting an increase in litigants in person, which leads to delays in the Court process and increased anxiety for all. The Children and Families Bill looks set to dominate the Family Justice agenda for the coming months.

Further, the Crime and Courts Act 2013 establishes a single family court, which includes the High Court and Family Proceedings Court. This should be an opportunity to improve Family Justice for those who come to Court. Unfortunately, the shared view of the FCUPG is that budget pressures mean it may largely be an opportunity for more cuts with less local staff endeavouring to deliver Family Justice in fewer venues. This severely limits Access to Justice for the average member of the public and many MP’s already see that this is a big issue for their Constituency Members.

Lawyers in the main part were once content to deliver legal services and leave law and policy-making to Parliamentarians and lobbying to Unionists. Recent marches, petitions, news articles and letters show that we Lawyers now feel so strongly about changes to our legal system that we are prepared to stand up and shout.

Please contact your local MPs about these issues and encourage them to contact the FCUPG. As their postbags fill up…Access to Justice cannot be ignored!




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