Moffat & Co Solicitors

Moffat & Co Solicitors
Accident Compensation Claim Solicitors Scotland
PO Box 28287
Edinburgh
Scotland
EH9 2WU
Telephone:
0131 662 6988
Fax:
0131 667 8175

MASS Motor Accident Solicitors Society

Moffat & Co Solicitors Over 25 years of experience at your service

Will the changes in Legal Aid affect child injury compensation claims?

The Government’s drive to save around £350 million per year in what they perceive to be unnecessary court cases has prompted some radical changes to the current Legal Aid system. While many sectors of society are in the line of fire, the spotlight has fallen on the effects such changes are likely to have on child compensation claims.

The Legal Aid Reforms

As the Law stands, anyone with disposable assets of less than £8,000 can apply for Legal Aid. However, in its bid to reduce the annual legal bill by around £350 million, the Government could lower that figure to around £1,000. Should this plan come to fruition, around 600,000 cases that would normally be eligible for subsidy will no longer be so.

In addition to these cuts, the changes in the Law also mean that funding will no longer be available for cases including:

  • Divorce and custody battles
  • Clinical negligence claims
  • Employment and education law
  • Immigration, other than where someone is detained
  • Certain debt, housing and benefit issues

There has already been some significant opposition to these proposals and critics of the Government’s plans are now turning their attention to child compensation claims.

Child Compensation Claims

Before February 2011, Scottish law ruled that when applying for Legal Aid on a child’s behalf, only the child’s income and assets were assessed to determine eligibility. However, under amendments to the Law in the form of the Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2010 and the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2010, those rulings have changed.

Under the reformed system, the income and assets of the parents are also taken into account. The Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985 states that parents have a financial obligation to maintain their child. This has been a key factor in the changes to the Legal Aid system and also applies to parents who may have left the family home and moved away. If the amount of disposable assets permitted by an applicant to become eligible is lowered to £1,000, these reforms are likely to make it extremely difficult for lower income earners to receive funding on behalf of their child.

Gillian Guy of Citizen’s Advice predicts that, rather than helping to cut legal bills, the reforms will only create a bigger and more expensive problem: “Civil legal aid keeps people in their homes, in their jobs and out of debt. These cuts will leave hundreds of thousands with nowhere to turn for help. Serious cases of family breakdown, unfair dismissal and refusal of benefits will simply get worse.”

There are also fears that those wishing to pursue litigation will encounter ‘lawyer deserts’: notable pockets within the legal community that will simply refuse to take on cases that do not offer much in the way of damages. Currently, success fees won by no win/no fee solicitors are recovered from the losing defendant. Further reforms could see fees of up to 25% being recovered from the aggrieved party, leaving them with much less than they have been awarded in court. It looks as if the changes could have a significant impact on the ability of lower income families to pursue justice on behalf of their children.

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Testimonials

Since contacting Stan I was continously informed of the development and progress of each step of my claim. Stan was persistent and patient throughout the whole process and reassured me he would win me the compensation I deserved - and he was true to his word. I am extremely happy with the outcome of my claim and this is all thanks to Stan.

Sarah

My case was dealt with personally by Stan Moffat and what a brilliant guy. His office contacted me personally by telephone at the start of my claim to explain who they were and what they would be doing for me. All through the case I was kept fully informed of all actions either by e-mail or by letter and reassured by Stan several times of any queries I had.

It is very seldom that a solicitor will take the time to speak personally at any time with you without getting run through secretaries etc. I commend this man for that as this was a very upsetting and important time for me and he did everything in his power to make this as easy and as swift as possible for me.

I highly recommend the service that this firm brings and the speed that they move at.

J McMahon

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