The outgoing head of the family courts in England and Wales has raised concerns about access to family courts

Anybody who thinks that we currently have a network of courts which enables proper access to justice is deluding themselves

The outgoing head of the family courts in England and Wales has raised concerns about access to family courts

Over the last five years, the cut back on legal aid have been felt across the Family Court and on his final day in office before retirement, Sir James Munby, president of the family court division said: “Anybody who thinks that we currently have a network of courts which enables proper access to justice is deluding themselves.”

He cited the case of a litigant who had to make a 24-mile round trip on foot to a court and said alternatives to appearing in person must be considered.

Munby said those who lived in rural areas and had no access to private transport were hardest hit.

“That is the reality of our present justice system,” he said.

Sir James Munby had suggested that rather than have to appear in person at Court the lay public should have been asked if they would prefer different means, such as via video call on services such as Skype.

Asked about the cuts to legal aid introduced five years ago, he said: “What I would like to comment on is the reality … The fact is we have far more litigants in person than we did.

“The consequence is very large numbers of people come to court without representation. Our present court processes, our rules, our forms, our guidance, is woefully inadequate to enable litigants in person – even educated, highly articulate intelligent litigants in person – to understand the system. That’s a shocking reproach to us. That’s a current reality.”

At Ashley James Solicitors we aim to bridge the gap and make access to justice easier.  Please contact one of our specialist solicitors to discuss matters in detail on 0121-702-1580.

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