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Bach Commission recommends bringing range of family law cases back into civil legal aid

Commission advocates a new Right to Justice Act

In its final report the Bach Commission, which is supported by the Labour Party leadership and the Fabian Society,  calls on the government and other political parties to ensure minimum standards on access to justice are upheld through a new Right to Justice Act. The report will form part of the Labour Party's policy review.

The Commission, which has heard from more than 100 individuals and organisations over the past two years, has found that that cuts to legal aid have created a two-tier justice system where the poorest go without representation or advice.

The proposed Right to Justice Act will:

To make the act a reality, the commission also sets out an immediate action plan for the government to: widen the scope of legal aid, with a focus on early legal help; reform the eligibility requirements for legal aid; replace the Legal Aid Agency with an independent body; and improve the public's understanding of the law.

In respect of family law, the Commission recommends: 

a) representation in particularly sensitive areas of private family law (such as cases in which the primary care of a child is in dispute)
b) cases involving an application to remove a child from the jurisdiction
c) cases where there is local authority involvement in private law children proceedings
d) cases in which an allegation is made which is so serious it would be unjust not to provide legal representation to defend it
e) cases where the question of whether a child should have any contact with a parent or grandparent is in dispute
f) cases where a court determines expertise is necessary to decide a family case in the best interests of the child, but where the non-legally aided party is not in a position to pay a contribution towards that expertise.

To read the report, click here.