Pro bono family law service launched by Bath firm Crallan

November 7, 2012

Bath family law firm Crallan has launched a pro bono service aimed at people affected by changes in legal aid provision.

The service, which starts this week to coincide with National Pro Bono Week, will help litigants in person – people who would once have received legal aid but now have to manage on their own.

Solicitor Advocate Richard Crallan, pictured, said: “The divorce courts in Bath and Bristol are experiencing increasing numbers of litigants in person.

“With the anticipated wholesale abolition of legal aid in family law cases in April next year, the problem is only going to get worse.

“Going through a divorce case is difficult enough without the added stress of not really understanding what the law actually is or how the highly complex Family Procedure Rules 2010 work.”

He said the problem was emphasised by a recent Appeal Court decision in which the lower courts were instructed not to provide any extra leniency to litigants in person.

“It has been made clear: the courts will not bend the rules for litigants in person who inadvertently break the Family Procedure Rules,” said Richard.

“This may seem unfair but the gradual withdrawal of legal aid has increased the number of litigants in person. If the judges bend the rules and allow adjournments to litigants who need extra time to be ready for trial, the whole system would grind to a halt.”

The Crallan Divorce Pro Bono Service gives one hour of free advice and assistance to litigants in person in Bath or Bristol County Courts, so that their case can be reviewed and advice given on what they need to do to be ready for trial, for example, any missing evidence can be identified in advance of the trial date.

“The best advice is still to resolve cases through mediation,” added Richard. “But where that doesn’t work then we believe it’s important that our clients are represented in way that will get them the results they need.

“When we advise clients it is always on the basis that we share their hope of keeping their legal difficulties and expense to a minimum. Getting divorced is bad enough, without being bankrupted by the process.

“Our success to date has been based upon our clients understanding our vision and recommending us to their friends and wider networks.”


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