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Legal aid expended on private family law increases by 21 per cent

In January to March 2021 legal aid for family matters rose 2 per cent to £159.3 million. Legal aid for public family law, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of all civil legal aid, amounted to £131.2 million (an increase of 2 per cent). Legal aid in private family matters came to £28.1 million (an increase of 21 per cent).

The figures are included in the latest figures for legal aid published by the Ministry of Justice.

In January to March 2021 family legal help starts increased by 1 per cent compared to the same quarter last year. Completed claims decreased by 10 per cent and expenditure decreased by 11 per cent. There was a steep decline immediately following the implementation of LASPO Act in April 2013, with a more gradual decline over the last two to three years.

Certificates granted for family work decreased by 5 per cent in January to March 2021 compared to the previous year. Certificates completed remained unchanged compared to the same quarter the previous year. The associated expenditure has increased by 5 per cent compared to the same quarter the previous year.

While civil representation for public family law remains available, the LASPO Act removed legal aid for most private family law including issues such as contact or divorce. However, legal aid remains available for such cases where there is a risk of domestic violence or child abuse. In January to March 2021, applications for civil representation supported by evidence of domestic violence or child abuse increased by 5 per cent compared to the same period of the previous year. The total number of these granted decreased by 2 per cent over the same period. The proportion of applications granted remained steady at around 70 per cent from the inception of this type of application until the end of 2015, before increasing to around 80 per cent. The provisional figure for the latest quarter is 85 per cent.

For the full figures, click here.