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In April 2020, in response to the pressures placed on the advice sector by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced a partnership grant from the Ministry of Justice and the Access to Justice Foundation of £3.1million to support litigants in person – those people acting for themselves without legal representation. That grant is now fully underway, funding more than 50 organisations across 11 projects locally, regionally, and nationally. It aims to help litigants in person to identify and respond to legal issues as quickly as possible, and to offer support when they need to attend court in respect of their case.
Eight new partnerships – five local (Coventry and Birmingham; Lancashire and Greater Manchester; Suffolk, Norfolk and North East; Dorset and South Somerset; and North Yorkshire and Kirklees) and three regional (Devon and Cornwall; North and Mid-Wales; and the North-East of England) – have been awarded a total of £2million of funding to work together to share knowledge and expertise in order to identify and meet the emerging needs of litigants in person in the most effective manner.
In North and Mid-Wales, seven local Citizens Advice Bureau branches and the Bangor Law School are collaborating on two projects, the first to create and maintain a broader working relationship with the Law School which includes the opportunity for law students to gain experience in giving advice. The second project aims to increase the capacity of caseworkers and thus the support they can offer to litigants in person dealing with family, community care or employment issues.
These partnerships intend to allow funded organisations increased flexibility in their response to providing advice and support to litigants in person during, and in the aftermath of, the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also collate and disseminate data on those representing themselves, and provide feedback to influence future policy in this area.
Lord Wolfson QC, Justice Minister, commented:
“I am pleased at the considerable progress being made across the Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant and look forward to seeing all the regional and local partnerships continue to provide vital guidance and advice to vulnerable people in their areas. This collective approach is something to be celebrated and I am delighted at the significant strides being made by the North and Mid-Wales partnership. The leadership being provided by Ynys Môn Citizens Advice, Bangor University and the other 6 partners in the area sets a fantastic example of how collaboration across the third sector and beyond can benefit communities.”
Clare Carter, Interim Chief Executive of the Access to Justice Foundation, said:
"The local and regional partnerships formed through the MoJ-funded LSLIP grant have been fundamental in increasing collaboration between neighbouring services to enhance the advice and support available for litigants in person. We are pleased to see that the number of litigants in person supported through the LSLIP provision has already increased significantly, and we will continue to work closely with the MoJ and our grantees to further develop these important projects so that even more people in England and Wales have access to the legal advice and support they need."
Litigants in person wishing to find out more about the grants, or about the partnerships they are supporting, can go to the Access to Justice Foundation website, at: https://atjf.org.uk.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles