Are the Courts copying the Jeremy Kyle show?

August 8, 2014

In order to speed up paternity disputes, the Government has announced trials of funded DNA testing. Pilot programmes in Taunton and Bristol are being run in order to assess the viability of such testing and whether this initiative will indeed recue the pressure on family courts. Since legal aid was cut, family courts have been inundated with litigants without legal representation – this has led to an increase in drawn out legal cases and the justice minister, Simon Hughes, is keen to introduce new initiatives to limit needlessly lengthy legal debates.

In addition, Simon Hughes announced that these pilots will also allow hair testing to assess whether those involved have been abusing alcohol or drugs. The project is being run by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), but funded by the Ministry of Justice.

Simon Hughes, justice minister, said:
“We are funding DNA tests which will sort out the problem about who the father is rather than having three days of legal argument.”

Danny Hudson, partner at Watsons, commented:
“Legal aid was primarily cut as those in power supposed that legal aid was leading to unnecessarily drawn our legal proceedings, in order for solicitors to charge greater fees at the expense of the State. Sadly, this may have been true in a minority of cases by unscrupulous individuals in our profession (I loath to call these individuals ‘peers’).

“However, as a result of legal aid cuts, we have seen an increasing number of divorces and family disputes arriving in court with no legal representation which then leads to greater delays and longer proceedings. I appreciate that many individuals can no longer fund representation, but I would strongly advise that individuals call a solicitor (preferably Watsons!) for a no obligation conversation to assess their needs. There are exceptions where we can access funding or it may be appropriate for an individual, who wishes to represent themselves, to simply have a single meeting with us to confirm their position and the process. We will always endeavour to keep cost to a minimum and we are always transparent about any fees at the outset.”

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