Friday, October 24, 2008

Supply & Demand

Further to this earlier post yesterday Sir Mark Potter, President of the High Court Family Division in England & Wales was quoted in another Times article as saying the family courts are under heavy pressure by Government plans to reform family courts to save costs. This is in relation to the increase in court fees during May and long term plans to recoup the full costs of running the courts through fees charged to users the increase of court fees. The second part of the article looked at the way access to justice is threatened by the decrease in the number of solicitors prepared to carry on with legal aid work because of the cut in fees . This would result in more people representing themselves and fewer family lawyers.

From what I've heard many people in England & Wales, and not just those on legal aid, feel they cannot afford the legal costs and are choosing to represent themselves or use online divorce companies. Rather than being competitive and bringing the costs down as was hoped would happen in some quarters, it appears to me there is less demand for solicitors and the supply is falling and fees will increase. This means there is in effect a two tier system from which no one benefits. Those without money can't afford justice, litigants in persons cause procedural difficulties and time delays in courts, solicitors loose jobs and those with money pay more.

In Scotland the rules and procedures are difficult to get to grips with so party litigants are less usual, although they are perhaps becoming more common. I do believe the law should be more accessible and easier to understand so people can be better informed and choose to represent themselves if they wish, but I also think Scotland should avoid a two tier system and representation and justice needs to be affordable to all.


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