Court Advice CentresThere has been a lot of talk about Judges and courts seeing more and more with people without legal representatives, dealing with court hearings and paperwork. Family claims are causing particular problems for the courts.

Last week, Simon Hughes, the family justice minister, said he wanted to put in place “in court advice centres” to help those using the courts without legal representation. The focus appears on family claims rather than civil claims. The money proposed to fund the service is rather small so it looks as though it may be underfunded and significant hope will be pinned on the legal profession itself helping out.

The key proposals include:

  • A person in each court hearing centre to help litigants in person.
  • A designated Judge in each court hearing centre with responsibility for litigants in person. (What this actually means is anyone’s guess).
  • Improved online information.
  • More LawWorks Clinics and encouraging local legal advisors (even law schools) to assist them.
  • Advice over the phone and by email from RCJ Advice and greater information of the Law for Life online project.

Resolution, the family mediation service has been particularly underwhelmed, calling the proposals a “sticking plaster” on the significant wounds already inflicted on the family law system due to the reductions in legal aid.


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