Senior barristers have called for a review of family court advocacy over concerns that solicitor advocates have caused a drop in standards and “unjust outcomes”.
In a letter to Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, the chairs of the Family Law Bar Association and Bar Council warned that legal aid cuts have prompted insufficiently skilled solicitors to represent clients in court, rather than instructing better trained barristers.
Solicitors, they pointed out, require no advocacy training to appear in the county court, where the majority of children cases are conducted, or in the High Court.
Seeking an urgent review of standards, they warned: ‘The standard of representation being provided in many cases is so poor that unjust outcomes have occurred.”
They added: “Serious damage to the public interest has been caused by this situation”.
Responding, the Law Society and family lawyers group Resolution said the move was regrettable. They accused the Bar of acting out of self-interest and suggested its concerns were based on its own falling market share rather than quality.