Law students are to be brought in to advise litigants in person (LIPs) in divorce proceedings and other complex family cases around the country, according to plans set out by family justice minister Simon Hughes.
Following on from eight pilot centres around England and Wales, which between them advise 1,200 LIPs a month, Hughes now wants to establish a network of the in-court centres, aimed at allowing people who no longer qualify for legal aid to better represent themselves (22 April 2014).
Along with advice from students, mediation is encouraged and a telephone and online advice service will be available from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
Hughes said in the House of Commons today: “The government is committed to making sure that when people separate they do it in the best possible way. Too many people end up fighting expensive and confrontational court battles when they could be helped to resolve their problems outside of the courts. However, when people to end up in court it is imperative that they have the right advice and information.”
Students are increasingly providing assistance in place of legal aid and publicly-funded law centres. The first ever instance of asylum in Britain being secured on grounds of atheism was dealt with by Kent University’s law clinic (14 January 2014). Among other initiatives, SOAS students signed up to a minimum six-month term supporting Camden’s “most vulnerable residents”, while BPP’s clinic began catering for Londoners unable to access legal advice.