The Law Society has issued a practice note for family practitioners intending to set up or provide advice at a court duty scheme for private law family cases.
Since 1 April 2013, legal aid has not been available for private family law matters unless there is a history of domestic violence and/or child abuse, so many clients who would have previously been eligible for legal aid are unable to afford to instruct a solicitor.
This has resulted in an increase in litigants in person attending court. In response, a number of courts have been exploring the possibility of setting up private law family court duty schemes that provide advice on a pro bono basis.
Involvement in these schemes brings with it certain risks in terms of ensuring compliance with professional duties. The practice note aims to provide information for practitioners on managing the professional risks and should be read in conjunction with the Family Law protocol and Resolution’s Code of Practice.