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Legal aid cuts ‘disturbing’ – QC

Legal aid cuts ‘disturbing’ – QC

Victims of domestic abuse could be examined by their alleged perpetrator in court if cuts to legal aid come into effect, unleashing a "disturbing new landscape" of justice, campaigners have said.

Campaigners warn the changes, which they claim would see 600,000 people denied legal aid, would be damaging for women, children and families.

Stephen Cobb QC, chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, said: "68,000 children will be affected by the removal of legal aid in family cases, 54,000 fewer people will be represented in the family courts annually and there will be 75% fewer private law cases in court.

"We face the very real prospect that many children and women who have been victims of domestic abuse will have to endure the further trauma of being cross-examined by their alleged perpetrator, who will not be eligible for legal aid."

Calling on the Government to reconsider its plans ahead of its Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill being considered by MPs next week, Mr Cobb said: "We have come together as a broad cross section of organisations deeply concerned by the consequences of the Government's proposals.

"The Prime Minister stated that he wanted a family test for all domestic policy. Clearly nobody has applied that test to this bill. The civil legal aid cuts will be bad for children, bad for women and bad for families."

Campaigners fear the changes would also see more people going to court on their own without legal representation, which senior judges have warned could increase both costs and delays.

Mr Cobb added: "It is not too late for the Government to change its approach. If it really has the interests of families in mind, then it has to think again."

Our Family and Matrimonial team helps families across West London and Bucks. For advice, contact a member of the team, call us on 01494 790007 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.