Statistics recently released by the Ministry of Justice have revealed that more than half of family law cases have at least one litigant in person, further raising concerns about the impact of the Jackson Reforms on access to justice.
According to the figures, those who initiate family law proceedings are those most likely to be represented by a family law solicitor, with applicants being the only party to be represented by a family law solicitor in 36 percent of cases. In comparison, respondents were the sole represented party in just 11 percent of cases.
This situation is in stark contrast to the pre-Jackson Reform era; before the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), both applicants and respondents were represented by a family law solicitor in 40 percent of all cases.
The figures are likely to raise further questions about the impact of LASPO and will add fuel to the arguments of critics who say that it has proved hugely disadvantageous to those with lesser financial means, whether they are going through divorce, are involved in an inheritance dispute or involved in legal action related to a child arrangement order.
Furthermore, the MoJ statistics paint a picture of cases achieving quicker resolution when parties are not represented. For example, when parties to a divorce have a family lawyer, the average duration of proceedings is 26 weeks. This is contrasted with an average duration of 19 weeks when neither party has representation. However, it is important to note that the figures do not measure the quality of outcome.
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