This evening’s Panorama reported on the cuts to civil legal aid, focussing on private family law. It included interviews with the Lord Chancellor who introduced LASPO, Ken Clarke, as well as retired judges, lawyers and litigants affected by the cuts. It can be seen on the iPlayer here, and an article by the programme reporter Raphael Rowe can be seen here.
Those words, a criticism of the removal of legal aid in private law family proceedings, came not from a legal aid lawyer or politician opposed to the cuts. They were said, today, by a High Court Judge. Giving judgment in MG & JG v JF  EWHC 564 (Fam), Mostyn J expressed himself in unusually strong terms about the effect of a lack of legal aid on the litigants in the case before him, and more broadly.
The facts of the case are that a lesbian couple had a child fathered by a donor, who had contact with the child in his early years, until the relationship between the mothers broke down. He issued an application for contact. He is well off, if not wealthy, and the mothers are both relatively impecunious and would have been eligible for legal aid had it been available. Mostyn J considered that the interests of justice required that the mothers be represented and that the only source of funds was the father. He therefore ordered the donor father to pay the bulk of the costs of the proceedings, both his own and that of the mothers. “It could be said that it is grossly unfair that JF should have to pay now £20,596 plus 80% of the future therapeutic costs up to the IRH. But that is where the government has left him. It is a sorry state of affairs.” (para 36).
Filed under Family, LASPO