As family law specialists we believe in helping our clients to cope with extremely stressful life events. Cases involving things such as divorce, child disputes and wills and probate can be simultaneously highly complex in legal terms and extremely emotional, and we always combine our professional expertise with the ability to support our clients. This is one of the reasons why we are one of the dwindling numbers of legal aid solicitors 2022.
The principle that justice should be easily accessed by everyone is one that has underpinned the British legal system for many years, and the work of legal aid solicitors 2022 has always underpinned this principle. In simple terms, legal aid solicitors 2022, such as those working at Higgins Miller, will provide legal support for those people unable to fund it for themselves. For many, the risk of costs spiralling out of control is something that stops them from taking legal action and achieving the outcome their situation merits, and this is why the work of legal aid solicitors 2022 is so important.
Unfortunately, the number of legal aid solicitors in 2022 is lower than it’s ever been, as cuts to funding and changes in the rules mean that the number of cases and clients for which legal aid is an option is lower than it has ever been. According to figures published in the Law Society Gazette, the Ministry of Justice currently reports that there are only 1080 law firms in England and Wales offering legal aid services, down from 1,652 in April 2012. This means that in some areas of the country it is virtually impossible – even if you meet the stricter qualifying criteria – to find legal aid solicitors in 2022. Here at Higgins Miller, we’re determined to ensure that the clients in our community don’t find themselves faced with this problem, as it can have a massively negative range of impacts. First and foremost, someone worried about being unable to pay for legal representation may decide not to take legal action at all. In the majority of our cases we try to encourage clients to reach an agreement with other parties without recourse to court appearances, but sometimes action of this kind needs to be taken in order for justice to be done.
A client who is unable to take action for fear of the possible costs is a client who, as far as we’re concerned, is being denied justice. We work as legal aid solicitors 2022 to make sure this happens as rarely as possible. The other consequence of a lack of legal aid solicitors in 2022 is that people often choose to appear in court without representation, something which is hugely challenging and greatly increases the risk of an unfair decision being reached. Another major benefit of working with legal aid solicitors 2022 is that it offers protection against the risk of having to pay for the other party’s legal costs if the case is lost, a risk that can have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to pursue what they feel to be right and fair.
In general, we work as legal aid solicitors 2022 to make sure that, for our clients, justice is provided irrespective of their ability to pay. Legal aid was first introduced for civil matters in 1950, and at that time over 80% of the UK population would have been eligible for means-tested financial assistance. The government’s determination to cut the amount of money spent providing legal aid has seen this percentage shrink dramatically in the years since 2011, with many of the savings being driven by a reduction in the type of cases for which people would be eligible for legal aid solicitors 2022. Legal aid was removed as an option for cases involving clinical negligence, for example, and for all employment cases and most housing and debt-related cases. While this may have had a hugely negative impact on access to justice, our focus at Higgins Miller is firmly on the circumstances in which we can still act as legal aid solicitors 2022, and despite the cuts, our services can still be provided for the following types of case, for which you may be able to get help with some or all of your legal costs:
- Asylum and Immigration – legal aid is available for cases including asylum applications, Special Immigration Appeals Commission proceedings and applications to be identified as a victim of trafficking.
- Community Care – legal aid is available for cases including disputes regarding the quality of care provided in hospitals and nursing or residential homes and advice about help or services from your local authority or NHS due to illness, disability or mental capacity. This can also include Court of Protection cases.
- Criminal Cases – all criminal cases are still eligible for legal aid solicitors 2022 with the exception of minor offences.
- Debt – some debt cases are still eligible for legal aid, although not many. Cases in which a person might lose their home, be made bankrupt or be compelled by creditors to sell their home are still eligible for legal aid.
- Discrimination – cases in which a person feels they have been unlawfully discriminated against are still eligible for legal aid.
- Education – in the field of education, it is still possible to apply for legal aid if you disagree with a decision regarding special educational needs for your child.
- Family – there is a range of family law cases for which legal aid is available. These include:
- Making an application for a forced marriage protection order
- Care cases involving children deemed to be at risk by social services being taken into care
- Cases involving children being taken out of the UK without a parent/carer’s consent
- Family mediation dealing with issues around children and finance following a relationship breakdown
- An injunction was taken out against a violent or abusive family member or partner
- Housing – although many debt cases involving housing are no longer eligible for legal aid, it is still possible to make an application in cases such as:
- Cases of unlawful eviction
- Possession claims
- Cases dealing with issues of antisocial behaviour
- Injunctions in cases of harassment
- Cases against landlords alleging serious disrepair
- Some cases of homelessness, such as asylum support for accommodation
- Mental Health/Capacity – legal aid is available for cases involving representation at mental health tribunals for people detained in hospital and cases in which advice is needed after being sectioned.
- Welfare Benefits and Council Tax Reduction – cases which involve these issues are only eligible for legal aid if an appeal has been made on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court.
There is a range of other cases for which legal aid is still available which might not fit neatly into one of the categories listed above. These include the following:
- Cases involving gang-related violence
- Cases involving cross-border disputes
- Confiscation proceedings
- Cases seeking protection from harassment
- Clients seeking advice on disabled facilities grants
- Cases involving a nuisance caused by environmental pollution
- Any civil claims for abuse and sexual assault allegations
- Clients requiring assistance at inquests, although actual representation is only covered in exceptional cases
- Cases involving clinical negligence for children with brain injuries provided the injuries were caused in pregnancy, childbirth or up to eight weeks after birth, and have led to severe disability
- Cases involving an appeal against a decision stopping you from working with children and vulnerable adults
As the above makes clear, despite the severe cutbacks that have been made we can still act as legal aid solicitors 2022 in a wide and varied range of cases. If you’d like to find out more about whether your case would be eligible for legal aid, and whether your personal circumstances make any application likely to be successful please call our Legal Aid Solicitors 2022 on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected].
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