Proposals to improve efficiency in the legal aid system will undermine the representation of children in care cases, solicitors’ and court guardians’ leaders have warned.
The plans, which involve paying solicitors fixed fees rather than hourly rates for representing children and other parties in care proceedings, would cut the number of specialist lawyers who can perform the role, the Association of Lawyers for Children warned.
Alison Paddle (left), chair of guardians’ body Nagalro, said: “Children in these situations are very vulnerable and if you don’t have good legal advice you won’t be able to protect their interests properly.”
Under consultative plans produced by the Department for Constitutional Affairs last month, solicitors would be paid a fixed fee
for each of three stages of care proceedings – the case management conference, the pre-hearing review and the final hearing.
● Legal Aid: A Sustainable Future
The Association of Lawyers for Children