In many areas of law, free or subsidised early legal advice was stopped by the government in 2012.
The result? People who don’t have the cash must face their problems alone.
It is no surprise that the number of private law cases receive by The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, or CAFCASS as it is commonly known, has increased steadily since April 2014.
This year, we see a 13% year-on year-increase, the highest since those 2012 changes.
What has caused this surge of applications?
You’ll pay between £0-£30 per participant for an initial mediation and information assessment meeting (MIAM). Follow-up sessions usually cost £80 per participant – most people need to go for 3 or 4 sessions to e effective.
Mediation will not grant you guidance on your legal position, so most people are advised to seek legal advice in advance of mediation. While some free time may be available, initial advice can cost anything from £150 upwards.
However, a court fee for a private children application to court is £215, or less if you can get an exemption (for benefits). Although the parties should show that they have at least attempted mediation prior to issuing proceeding, there are ways to “get around” this requirement when lodging an application.
And herein lies the problem. What should be the last option – Court – has become the cheapest and easiest method of dispute resolution. Why would mediation and early advice be preferable if it could cost you triple the amount, especially as it offers no guarantee to resolve the matter.
The current system is unsustainable and leaves Judges and the Court in an intolerable position. It also harbours a system under-which people choose to enter very serious litigation without fully understanding the potential consequences. Long-term effects can be detrimental and permanently damaging.
This is why Cartridges Law supports the Law Society Early Advice Campaign… but we need your support.
Join us today by showing your support below and we will add your details to our submission to the Lord Chancellor. Alternatively, you can go into greater detail about your experience by contacting the Lord Chancellor directly using this online submission form.