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Hepburn Delaney’s Family Law Solicitor Rebecca Delaney featured in Family Law

9 Oct 2019

Family Law Journal

Rebecca is a Partner and Director here at Hepburn Delaney, leading the Family team. Since qualifying in 2008, she is now a member of the Children Panel, with extensive experience in representing children in court. In addition to this, she also has previous experience in fields including Divorce, Financial Remedy and Co-habitation disputes.

This September, Rebecca was interviewed by Family Law, and her Day in the Life of… Rebecca Delaney article was featured online.

The article focuses on her role as a Partner and Director, her experiences within family law and her key responsibilities. It also features her opinion on the matter of legal aid in the family justice system, specifically she was asked by the editor: “If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?”

With the hope to enlighten readers on this key problem, her answer to this question was based heavily around the issue of legal aid. She comments on how there has been an increase in litigants in person and a decline in the number of solicitors taking part in legal aid work, with damaging effects on families and their ability to access legal representation and advice. She is worried about the unsustainability of those working within and currently maintaining the system.

Legal Aid Work

What is legal aid?

Legal aid refers to the assistance of those who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Having legal aid can help people meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation, and legal representation in court. This is in line with the justice system, to help ensure equality, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.

The Legal Aid Agency is responsible for providing legal aid in England and Wales.

You may receive legal aid for:

  • Homelessness
  • Protecting yourself or your child from abuse or harassment
  • Family mediation

For further information about what problems you can receive legal aid for, visit gov.uk.

Who is eligible for legal aid?

In order to acquire legal aid, you have to demonstrate that:

  • Your case is eligible for legal aid
  • The issue at hand is serious
  • You are unable to pay for the legal costs

The likelihood of success may also be a consideration for eligibility.

You are only considered eligible for legal aid for non-criminal (civil) cases. In this case, criminal legal aid may be an option.

How is the family justice system changing around the subject of legal aid?

There have been a number of issues that have arisen surrounding legal aid in the UK. Many firms are concerned that this line of work is not sufficiently profitable to be sustainable and there is added pressure on those committed to the system to rise to the demand for legal aid work.

In her interview with Family Law, Rebecca commented that legal aid was the one thing she would change about the family justice system:

There are many small things that all practitioners might think of, but the overwhelming issue in the family justice system is legal aid. The increase in litigants in person in the private family law sphere, and the gradual decline in the numbers of solicitors willing to undertake legal aid work because of the erosion in recoverable fees in the public family law sphere has had, in my opinion, a widespread negative impact on families, their access to justice and their human rights. The system is being maintained by the seemingly unending commitment of those working within it, the lawyers, judges, social workers and experts. This is commendable but I fear unsustainable.

To read the rest of her interview, head to Family Law.

If you have further questions about legal aid in the Family Justice System, our specialist team will be happy to help. For more information and advice, please contact us today on 01442 218090.