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Legal aid reforms set to become law

Wednesday 25th April 2012 saw the government win its final battle over controversial legal aid reforms in the House of Lords. This means the reforms are set to become law.

Peers had inflicted 14 defeats on the government in votes on the proposed amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill (LASPO) during its parliamentary passage.

Lady Scotland had called for an amendment to ensure legal aid for more domestic violence victims, and the final vote ended in a draw. Under parliamentary convention this constitutes as a win for the government.

LadyScotland’s amendment was the final change under debate after crossbencher Lord Pannick dropped his amendment, seeking a statement in the bill putting a duty on the government to ensure access to legal advice.

Last week also saw the government climbdown on the asbestos cases, agreeing to exclude mesothelioma cases from the reforms until a review of their impact on other areas had been conducted.

The LASPO bill is now set for royal assent, and although there is no confirmed date, the Ministry of Justice says it is likely to be soon.

Swain &Co. are saddened at the news as the reforms will see many people without the option to seek legal advice and assistance. One of the foundation stones of the British legal system which promotes access to justice for all will fundamentally be destroyed, leaving many vulnerable people isolated.

One area where virtually all legal aid will be lost is family law. Unless issues involve domestic violence, family law issues will need to be self-funded.

In response to this shift, Swain & Co.’s expert family law solicitors and lawyers are offering services on fixed fee rates. So, if you find yourself facing a divorce, and not knowing where to turn, call our Family Law team on 02392 492967 to discuss the fixed fee divorce for £749 including VAT and court fees.

We can also offer other services where matters involve children and finances, on a fixed fee basis.

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